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    U.S. President Donald Trump | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 February 2017
Opinion

In its annual Human Rights report Amnesty International calls out Trump for unleashing "the darkest aspects of human nature."

Amnesty International released its annual report on the state of the world's human rights on Wednesday, highlighting the dangers of the "toxic agenda" of leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump which "hounds, scapegoats and dehumanizes entire groups of people," and which threatens to "unleash the darkest aspects of human nature."

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The 408-page report looking at 160 countries also highlights that governments around the world are increasing their repression of human rights activists and land defenders, pointing out that states are increasingly "painting the protection of human rights as a threat to security, law and order or national 'values'."

"We cannot passively rely on governments to stand up for human rights, we the people have to take action," said Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty in a press release.

"In dark times, individuals have made a difference when they took a stand, be they civil rights activists in the USA, anti-apartheid activists in South Africa, or women's rights and LGBTI movements around the world. We must all rise to that challenge now," he added.

The report makes multiple specific mentions of Trump, and in particular his recent Muslim ban, as an example of how "cynical narratives" of "blame, hate and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s."

The report noted that politicians such as Trump and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban "are answering legitimate economic and security fears with a poisonous and divisive manipulation of identity politics in an attempt to win votes."

"The first target has been refugees and, if this continues in 2017, others will be in the cross-hairs," the report noted. "The reverberations will lead to more attacks on the basis of race, gender, nationality and religion. When we cease to see each other as human beings with the same rights, we move closer to the abyss."

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In its section on the Americas, the report noted that the cases of the murder of prominent Indigenous rights activist Berta Caceres in Honduras and the 43 missing students from the Ayotzinapa teachers' training college are examples of a "pervasive culture of impunity" which has led to the increased targeting of human rights defenders.

Included in that list was the U.S., which has failed to prosecute anyone involved in the torture and forced disappearance of thousands as part of the illegal secret detention and torture program run by the CIA.

The report also called out the U.S. for its detention of thousands of women and children as part of ongoing attacks on migrants.

In Canada, the report noted the dangerous increase in the use of solitary confinement, as well and the government's failure to abide by a human rights ruling condemning the ongoing discrimination against Indigenous children.

The reported highlighted the success of Colombia's peace process where FARC guerillas have maintained their commitment to demobilize, but noted that "security forces and paramilitaries perpetrated unlawful killings, forced displacement, enforced disappearances, death threats and crimes of sexual violence with almost total impunity."

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In Brazil, the report focussed on the ongoing murder, torture, and ill-treatment of "young Black men from Favelas" as well as Indigenous land defenders at the hands of state police, who "often use excessive or unnecessary force to suppress protests."

The report also noted that governments throughout Europe have "actively obstructed potential solutions" to the refugee crisis created by U.S. and European sponsored wars in the Middle East, leading to the deaths of thousands of migrants.

In France, Amnesty condemned the ongoing state of emergency for "heavy-handed security measures" which have led to "thousands of house searches, as well as travel bans and detentions."

In Israel and Palestine, the report highlighted Israel's use of torture and illegal detention — including that of children — is at a 10-year high, and that house demolitions, both in the occupied territories and in Israel proper, part of Israel's illegal policy of collective punishment, hit record levels.

In a strange twist, Amnesty censured the government of Venezuela for failing to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of 43 people during violent protests led by right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez in 2014, and yet suggested that Lopez's arrest for instigating that violence was somehow "arbitrary."

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