By P.K.Balachandran/Ceylon Today
Colombo, March 7: The United States struts about the global stage portraying itself as an ideal democracy and as a gladiator for human rights everywhere. But it doesn’t appear to have an exemplary rights record to back its claims. The World Report for 2022 of the Human Rights Watch (HRW), had this to say: “The Biden administration has made some big-picture pronouncements on key issues like racial and gender equity with little evidence so far that the words will translate into real impact for people whose rights have been systematically and historically ignored or trampled.”
Backing this up, Nicole Austin-Hillery, US Program Executive Director at HRW, said: “Black people in the United States still suffer from significant economic disparities stemming from systemic racism that have impacts across generations; and border policies have shredded the right to seek asylum, while officials subject migrants to violent, abusive treatment.” Anc according to Executive Director Kenneth Roth: “ Black people are killed by police at a per capita rate that is three times the rate of White people. Black people still make up almost 42% of the current death row population despite being only 12.4% of the US population.”
The Biden administration has also kept in place the harmful Title 42 border policy, under which it expels asylum seekers to unsafe conditions in Mexico or their home countries on specious public health grounds, HRW says. The Department of Homeland Security documents showed over 160 internal reports of physical and other abuses of asylum seekers as well as violations of their due process rights.
Reviewing the Trump Administration’s human rights record in 2020, Amnesty International noted that the Trump administration’s record was “dismal”. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated long-standing inequalities in the USA. Inadequate and uneven government responses to the pandemic had a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on many people based on their race, socioeconomic situations and other characteristics. Additionally, racially discriminatory political speeches and violence increased the number of hate crimes, the report said.
At least 1,000 people were reportedly killed by police using firearms. Black people are disproportionately impacted by police use of lethal force. In numerous incidents, human rights defenders – including protest organizers, media representatives, legal observers and street medics – were specifically targeted with chemical irritants and kinetic impact projectiles, Amnesty said.
The ongoing failure to protect individuals from persistent gun violence continued to violate their human rights. Unfettered access to firearms, a lack of comprehensive gun laws and a failure to invest in adequate gun violence prevention and intervention programs continued to perpetuate gun violence. In 2018, 39,740 persons died from gunshot injuries while tens of thousands more sustained gunshot injuries.
As of 2020, expansive “Stand Your Ground” and “Castle Doctrine” laws, both of which provide for private individuals to use lethal force in self-defense against others when in their homes or feeling threatened, existed in 34 US states. These laws escalate gun violence. The federal government carried out more than three times the number of executions in 2020 than it had between 1977 and 2019 combined. Since judicial killing resumed in the USA under revised statutes in 1977, a total of 1,529 people have been executed.
Amnesty said that the authorities unlawfully detained and “expelled” over 330,000 migrants and asylum-seekers between March and November – including over 13,000 unaccompanied children.
Under its flawed “global war on terror” project the US repeatedly resorted to lethal force in countries around the world, including using armed drones, in violation of its obligations under international human rights law and, where applicable, international humanitarian law, ignoring calls by the UN for clarifications. Since January 2018, the US has not responded to communications from Special Procedures or accepted their requests for invitations to carry out official visits.
Following announcements that the ICC would investigate violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, the Trump administration issued an Executive Order which declared a “national emergency” and authorized asset freezes and family entry bans against certain ICC officials.
In July, the US Department of State released a report by its advisory panel called the “Commission on Unalienable Rights”. That report unilaterally redefined what human rights mean, rejecting the interpretive authority of UN and other international human rights bodies, Amnesty said.
The February 2022 Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2021 issued by the State Council Information Office of China quotes NBC News of Sept. 1, 2021 to say that since March 2021, the US had thrown away at least 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, that was significantly more than many poor countries had prepared for their whole populations. But the US itself has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, with 34.51 million confirmed cases and 480,000 fatalities, which far surpassed the numbers in 2020. Average life expectancy in the US fell by 1.13 years, during the pandemic, the biggest drop since World War II.
The public security situation in the United States deteriorated. There were 693 mass shootings in 2021, up 10.1% from 2020. More than 44,000 people were killed in gun violence. The United States is the country with the largest number of privately owned guns in the world. The Small Arms Survey (SAS) researchers estimate that Americans own 393 million of the 857 million civilian guns available, which is around 46% of the world’s civilian gun cache.
There are 120 guns for every 100 Americans, according to the SAS. No other nation has more civilian guns than people. Every town for Gun Safety reported on Dec. 21, 2021 that over 15 million guns were sold through October. According to statistics released on Jan. 5, 2022 by the Gun Violence Archive website, the number of fatalities from shootings in the US rose from 39,558 in 2019 to 43,643 in 2020, and further to 44,816 in 2021. CNN reported on Nov. 26, 2021 that Jason R. Silva, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at William Paterson University, said that the United States is the only developed country where mass shootings have happened every single year for the past 20 years. According to an April 2021 Pew Research Center survey, 48 percent of Americans see gun violence as a very big problem in the country today.
According to data compiled by Mapping Police Violence, at least 1,124 people died in 2021 due to U.S. police violence. The USA TODAY website reported on June 21, 2021 that police in the United States fatally shoot about 1,000 people a year..
Around 81% Asian American adults said violence against Asian communities is rising. Hate crimes against Asians in the New York City jumped 361% from 2020. 59% of Americans said ethnic minority groups do not have equal job opportunities. The hate against Asian Americans has followed Washington’s confrontation with Beijing.
Prisoners held in U.S. private prisons are at risk of being abused. The UN News reported on Feb. 4, 2021 that in 2019, there were about 116,000 U.S. prisoners held in privately operated facilities, representing about 7% of all state prisoners and 16% of , quoting data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The United States still held 39 detainees at the Guantanamo prison.
Fernand de Varennes, a special rapporteur on minority issues of the United Nations, said the US legal system of human rights protection is incomplete and outdated, which has led to growing inequality. More than 420 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 US States.
The number of the homeless in the US is staggering, the Chinese report said. The Washington Post reported on Dec. 7, 2021 that “homelessness is one of the United States’ greatest current challenges, no matter the region.”
Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations at Harvard University, said: “Americans must first fix what has gone wrong at home and rethink how they deal with the rest of the world.”