Tue, Mar 19, 2019 - Page 7 News List

US ignoring UN rights officials: groups

HOSTILE ATTITUDE:Not only has the US government failed to submit routine human rights reports with the UN, it has also threatened ICC officials, an ACLU appraisal said

The Guardian, NEW YORK

US President Donald Trump’s administration is coming under fire for its refusal to engage with international human rights monitors over potential violations inside the US, from police brutality and executions to the abuse of migrant children at the border.

Protests have poured in from organizations objecting to the government’s virtual boycott of established systems designed to protect human rights, after the US withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council last year.

Washington is accused of rebuffing official complaints from monitors, undermining human rights bodies and threatening officials with prosecution should they step foot on US soil.

The latest condemnation comes from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has delivered a scathing appraisal to the council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Over the past year, “the Trump administration has escalated its hostility toward human rights bodies, including the apparent severing of relationships with independent experts appointed to monitor and report on human rights violations,” the rights group told the council.

The statement, submitted by ACLU director of human rights Jamil Dakwar, added that under Trump, the US has not extended a single invitation to UN experts to visit the country as part of routine oversight.

The UN expert on the human rights of migrants has asked repeatedly to be allowed to visit the US-Mexican border, given the serious deterioration of treatment of undocumented migrants, but to no avail, the statement said.

In January, the Guardian reported that the US government had ceased to cooperate with tried and tested international procedures, in a move which threatened the nation’s standing as a beacon of good practice on the world stage.

At that point, the US Department of State had failed to respond to 13 complaints by UN monitors raising fundamental questions about the US’ commitment to international law.

The number of unanswered requests from the UN’s special rapporteurs has risen to 22. The last such demand that received a reply from any Trump official was in May last year.

The chill in the US’ relations with the human rights community has been widely condemned as a betrayal of American values. It is also seen as potentially providing encouragement to regimes such as Saudi Arabia and North Korea to flout international norms.

The State Department has told reporters that the US remains “deeply committed to the promotion and defense of human rights around the globe,” but it has pointedly declined to comment on the accusation that it is hostile to any attempt to hold the US itself accountable.

In a statement issued to the Guardian, a press spokesman only referred to the standards of other countries.

“The United States remains engaged in the work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and strongly supports those special procedures and mandates that have proven effective in illuminating the most grave human rights environments, including in Iran and DPRK [North Korea],” the statement read.

The cold shoulder given to some of the world’s most respected human rights experts marks an extraordinary about-turn for the US, which under previous presidents prided itself on upholding standards.

The US was central to the creation in 1945 of the UN, which is headquartered in New York.

One of the most recent unanswered complaints to the State Department was made on March 7 by UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Felipe Gonzalez Morales.

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