The American Independent

Trump team stops cooperating with UN human rights investigations

Donald Trump

The Trump administration's decision to ignore inquiries about human rights violations inside the U.S. will be 'music to the ears of the world's tyrants.'

The Trump administration has broken with decades of precedent and stopped cooperating with the United Nations over potential human rights violations inside the U.S., a startling new report reveals.

According to the Guardian, the State Department has "quietly" ceased responding to official complaints from U.N. special rapporteurs, a group of independent watchdogs tasked with monitoring and providing international oversight of fundamental human rights issues.

Since last May, the administration has ignored 13 official inquiries pertaining to issues such as poverty, inequality, family separations at the border, and anti-LGBTQ prejudice.

The news will be "music to the ears of the world's tyrants," warned Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

The timing of the break in relations with U.N. investigators comes just as the Trump administration is facing increasing scrutiny for its treatment of immigrants and its support for Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the murder of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The administration's failure to cooperate with international human rights investigators also coincides with the publication of a June 2018 report by Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty, detailing "devastating inequality" in the U.S.

The scathing report, which summarized the findings from Alston's visit to the U.S. to study poverty, condemned Trump and his Republican allies for exacerbating the problem with their policies.

The report was rejected by officials in the Trump administration, who accused Alston of bias and called it "patently ridiculous" to focus on human rights inside the U.S. when other countries have even worse records.

While it is not known if the report is directly related to the administration's decision to stop cooperating with U.N. monitors, emails reviewed by the Guardian suggest that it may have prompted them to cut ties.

Alston warned that the move by the Trump administration "sends a message that you can opt out of routine scrutiny if you don’t like what is being said about your record on human rights."

Other experts responded with similar alarm.

"They are sending a very dangerous message to other countries: that if you don’t cooperate with UN experts they will just go away," ACLU human rights director Jamil Dakwar told the Guardian. "That's a serious setback to the system created after World War II to ensure that domestic human rights violations could no longer be seen as an internal matter."

In June, the Trump administration announced that the U.S. was dropping out of the U.N. human rights council, describing it as a "cesspool of political bias." That marked the first time that any member state has withdrawn from the council since it was formed in 2006.

Once considered a standard-bearer for international accountability on human rights, the U.S. now joins North Korea as part of a small minority of countries worldwide considered to be "uncooperative states" — a development that will come as welcome news to brutal dictators around the globe.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.