Sun | Jan 24, 2021

Biden should revamp US human rights policy

Published:Thursday | January 14, 2021 | 12:11 AM
US President-elect Joe Biden
US President-elect Joe Biden

GENEVA (AP):

US President-elect Joe Biden should bring “fundamental change” to US policy on human rights and allow criminal investigations of President Donald Trump, the head of Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

Executive Director Kenneth Roth laid out a long wish list for the incoming administration, saying he hopes it will join efforts to improve human rights that other countries have been largely shouldering during Trump’s term.

“After four years of Trump’s indifference and often hostility to human rights, including his provoking a mob assault on democratic processes in the Capitol, the Biden presidency provides an opportunity for fundamental change,” Roth said.

The comments come as Human Rights Watch issued its annual ‘World Report 2021’ that chronicles concerns about human rights in more than 100 countries around the world.

The Trump administration has been outspoken on human rights abuses in places like Venezuela and in particular China, going after Beijing for its crackdowns in Tibet, Hong Kong and the western Xinjiang region.

TOO ACCEPTING

But Trump pulled the United States out of the UN-backed Human Rights Council more than two years ago, alleging it has an anti-Israel bias and has been too accepting of governments that regularly violate human rights.

Under Trump, the “occasional US condemnation of human rights in places like Venezuela, Cuba or Iran rang hollow when parallel praise was bestowed on the likes of Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia ... or Israel,” Roth said.

“To sum it up, Donald Trump was a disaster for human rights,” he said, while insisting it “would be naive” to treat a Biden presidency as a cure-all.

Roth cited past policies like George W. Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ as well as intensified drone strikes and surveillance under Barack Obama, saying Biden should look to cement human rights into US policy for the long term.

He said Biden should also “allow justice to pursue its course with respect to Trump to show that the president is not above the law, resisting the ‘look forward, not back’ rationale that Obama used to ignore torture under Bush”.

Roth said social media platforms “did the right thing, and perhaps even belatedly” by suspending Trump’s accounts, arguing that the president had used them to “encourage white supremacists, to foment hatred, obviously to spread lies about – the big lie about – his supposed electoral win.”

“But most important: To foment the mob that attacked the Capitol,” he added.