President Donald Trump has been compared to Vladimir Putin and Rodrigo Duterte by Amnesty International, as they warn that his policies in the US are fuelling repression around the world.
Mr Trump was accused of ushering in “a new era of human rights regression” and charged, along with other controversial world leaders, with “shamelessly turning the clock back on decades of hard-won protections”.
“The spectres of hatred and fear now loom large in world affairs, and we have few governments standing up for human rights in these disturbing times,” said Shalil Shetty, executive director of Amnesty International.
“Instead, leaders such as al-Sisi, Duterte, Maduro, Putin, Trump and Xi are callously undermining the rights of millions.
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“The feeble response to crimes against humanity and war crimes from Myanmar to Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen underscored the lack of leadership on human rights. Governments are shamelessly turning the clock back on decades of hard-won protections.”
Mr Trump’s willingness to tout “fake news” in order to manipulate public opinion, coupled with attacks on institutions that act as checks on power, show that free speech will be a key battle-ground for human rights this year, the British-based organisation said.
“In 2018, we cannot take for granted that we will be free to gather together in protest or to criticize our governments. In fact, speaking out is becoming more dangerous,” said Mr Shetty.
Presenting their annual report for the first time in the United States, in a sign of how seriously they were taking Mr Trump’s actions, Amnesty said that Mr Trump has “wasted little time in putting his anti-rights rhetoric of discrimination and xenophobia into action”.
The organisation highlighted extreme restrictions placed on women’s and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health services, repeals of protections for the LGBTI community, abuses along the US-Mexico border, and threatening Native American tribes’ access to clean water with the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
They also condemned his attempts to take away healthcare from millions of Americans, his strident support for continued use of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, and his travel ban for Muslim-majority countries.
Yet despite Mr Trump’s policies, Amnesty said that the American people could still be counted on to support human rights around the world.
“Defenders of human rights around the world can look to the people of the United States to stand with them, even where the US government has failed,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, was published on Thursday and covers 159 countries.
It condemns atrocities in countries including Yemen, Syria, Burma and Saudi Arabia.
The report also singled out France, for its treatment of migrants; Australia, for its detention of asylum seekers on the island of Nauru, and Mexico, for the impunity with which journalists are murdered.