HRW slams Trump, Modi over rights abuses

Executive Director Roth urges Biden to restore Washington’s credibility on HR

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GENEVA: The head of the New-York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) slammed the outgoing US President Donald Trump for flouting human rights during his stay in the White House and stressed the need for incoming Joe Biden to restore the country’s credibility on human rights at home and abroad.

Speaking to Reuters before the release of the activist group’s annual report, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth also criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his policy towards Muslims, “even though India is going to be an important US ally in contesting China”.

“Trump has been a complete disaster for human rights, he flouted human rights at home with the fomenting of the January 6 attack on the Capitol being just the latest example of the natural culmination of four years of abuse of democratic principles,” Roth told Reuters Television in Geneva.

With eight days remaining of Trump’s term, the US House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday on an article of impeachment, accusing him of inciting insurrection in a speech to his followers last week before a mob of them stormed the Capitol, leaving five dead.

Trump has denied responsibility for the violence and previous allegations of violating human rights. He has said his critics stole the election to block his “Make America Great Again” and “America First” policies, but produced no evidence.

Roth accused Trump of having “cozied up to every friendly autocrat under the sun” while reserving criticism on human rights issues for his “perceived adversaries” – Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, and “sometimes China”.

“But that kind of utterly inconsistent approach had no credibility. There was no force to his criticism when people knew that it was serving another political agenda, not a principled agenda,” The HRW head said.

Biden, due to take office on January 20, should articulate human rights as a “guiding principle of US foreign policy and then to stick with it, even when that’s difficult”, Roth said. He urged the US President-elect to call off arms sales to certain Arab countries as well as Israel.

Roth called on Biden to make human rights a cornerstone of the US foreign policy and re-engage with the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, a Geneva-based forum which Trump quit in June 2018, “even though it criticises Israel”.

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