A brief look at human rights violations: Part 8...
Reports and statistics from various international organizations and news agencies indicate that the rate of human rights violations in the US has been much higher than the past. In this report we enumerate some of these violations from first of November till December.
1- Trump has long blamed the U.S. asylum system for attracting large groups of migrants from Central America. According to The Hill, the Trump administration said it is moving ahead with a plan to clamp down on asylum claims. The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security published a joint rule prohibiting certain people caught crossing the U.S. southern border from Mexico between ports of entry from claiming asylum.
The move is expected to draw legal challenges and widespread opposition from Democrats and immigrant rights groups . Trump's decision to make good on his pledge shows he has no plans to let up on his immigration crackdown. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (INA) says migrants can claim asylum regardless of how they crossed the border and some legal experts have said the changes could violate that law. "Denying people the right to seek asylum is cruel, unjust, and also unlawful," said Tom Jawetz, vice president of immigration policy at the liberal Center for American Progress.
2- According to a report by Human Rights Watch on November 1st , the US state department downplays reporting on women. when the US State Department issued its annual human rights report for 2017, there were some glaring omissions. The section that typically provides detailed analysis of violence against women in various countries was conspicuously truncated. References to government action or inaction related to gender-based violence disappeared. While these omissions were widely criticized by human rights organizations, the State Department said the changes were merely meant to streamline the country chapters, which have become long and unwieldy.
But a new study by Oxfam casts doubt on that explanation. The study found that while reporting on women’s rights issues, as measured by usage of “women”, “woman” and “female”, fell by 32 percent, the overall heft of the chapters did not change. The 2017 report is not statistically significantly shorter than the 2016 counterpart, but countries of origin of asylum seekers to the US and those with greater gender inequality have both seen disproportionately deeper cuts in reporting on women rights issues. The most stunning omission from the 2017 report was the complete excising of reporting on women’s and girl’s reproductive health care.
Women’s rights are key issues. The Trump administration’s targeted deletions and radical editing of reporting on them jeopardizes the work of activists around world working to raise the profile of abuses against women and girls.
3- As U.S. authorities shut down one of the busiest ports of entry in the world and fired tear gas at a group of Central American migrants, tensions ramped up at the U.S.-Mexico border. Migrants dispersed as the wind carried the tear gas across the border, causing some children to cry and choke as their parents held them tightly. Trump has been ramping up pressure on the Mexican government to deal with the migrants, who have been moving by foot through the country for weeks.
Trump has seized on the migrant caravan with hostility, requesting the deployment of thousands of troops at the border and signing a proclamation that would prevent some of its members from claiming asylum. It was not immediately clear if any of the more than 5,000 troops at the border were involved in the altercation. Some have accused Trump of invoking the caravan in order to stoke anti-immigrant and xenophobic fears among his base.
4- The community of people have one thing in common: the hope of safety and security for themselves and their families. The Trump’s rule, using the legal decision approving the “Muslim ban” to restrict immigration processes, would force all people seeking asylum to pass through ports of entry along the border to have access to protection. This denies the right of asylum to anyone who crosses the border irregularly, putting more people at risk of deportation back into harm’s way instead of hearing their asylum claims. It also means that people who do arrive at ports of entry could be stuck on the Mexico side of the border for days, or even weeks, as the lines clog up with thousands of people from the caravans arriving. The longer they wait, the more the people stranded on the Mexican side of the border are at risk of being victims of organized crime- kidnapping, extortion.
5- Shortly after 9/11, the CIA considered using a drug it thought might work like a truth serum and force terror suspects to give up information about potential attacks. After months of research, the agency decided that a drug called Versed, a sedative often prescribed to reduce anxiety, was "possibly worth a try." But in the end, the CIA decided not to ask government lawyers to approve its use. "This document tells an essential part of the story of how it was that the CIA came to torture prisoners against the law and helps prevent it from happening again," said ACLU attorney Dror Ladin.
There were at least two legal obstacles: a prohibition against medical experimentation on prisoners and a ban on interrogational use of ‘mind-altering drugs’ or those which ‘profoundly altered the senses. Those questions became moot after the CIA decided against asking the Justice Department to give it a green light. The ACLU spent more than two years in court trying to get the report released. In September 2017, a federal judge in New York ordered the CIA to release it. The government is still fighting to keep portions secret.
6- According to Aljazeera, five men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks face death penalty trials in "military commissions" proceedings at a secret multimillion-dollar legal complex at Guantanamo, set up to try captives in the US "war on terror".But seventeen years after the worst attack on US soil these cases have yet to be heard. Also "strict controls" on the legal process at Guantanamo are designed to "prevent information about torture getting out to the public." Said James Connell who represents Ammar al-Baluchi, accused of helping to supply funding to the 9/11 hijackers. The view of Lieutenant Colonel Derek Poteet, a defence lawyer representing the alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed - that the US Government was "trying to hide so very much" leading to an "interminable delay" in the 9/11 cases coming to trial.
Unfortunately, US President Donald Trump has vowed to keep the facility open and "load it up" with "bad dudes”. The White House also declined to explain President Trump's views on torture. For critics though, President Trump's stated view that "torture works" makes it even more vital that warnings are sounded about the future.
7- American Cable News Network (CNN) has severed ties with Marc Lamont Hill, a recurring political contributor, after he delivered a speech at the United Nations accusing Israel of "state violence and ethnic cleansing" and championed a one-state solution.
Hill had called for "a single secular democratic state for everyone" in a meeting at the UN marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Wednesday, with a "free Palestine from the river to the sea". The ADL said the "river to the sea" phrase was code for the destruction of Israel, adding that the annual UN event promoted "divisiveness and hate". Hill defended his speech in social media posts, saying he did not support anti-Semitism and that his "reference to 'river to the sea' was not a call to destroy anything or anyone". "It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza," he tweeted. "I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice," he continued. "I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech."
Politicians, journalists and pro-Palestinian activists called Hill's firing shameful, and accused CNN of kowtowing to right-wing Israeli groups. “CNN's decision contributes to the chilling effect on freedom of expression ... where speaking honestly about Israel's abuse of Palestinians could result in shunning, and even firing.” Said Omar Baddar, deputy director of the Washington-based Arab American Institute.
8- Roughly two million people who work for the federal government have now been told that it may be illegal for them to participate in discussions about president Trump at work. Generally, federal employees have been free to express opinions about policies and legislative activity at work as long as they do not advocate voting for or against particular candidates in partisan elections. But in a guidance document, the independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act, a law that bars federal employees from taking part in partisan political campaigns at work or in an official capacity, warned that making or displaying statements at work about impeaching or resisting Mr. Trump is likely to amount to illegal political activity. Several legal specialists raised concerns about the new guidance, warning that it would intimidate people into avoiding even casual discussions with colleagues that should not be deemed banned by the statute.