US human rights ‘deteriorated’ in 2020: Amnesty International


The scenario of human rights within the United States deteriorated additional in 2020 because the COVID-19 pandemic and the presidency of Donald Trump exacerbated pre-existing rights considerations whereas the Black Lives Matter motion towards police brutality uncovered widespread racism, in response to a new report on international human rights by Amnesty International launched Tuesday.

The report lists 15 human rights areas of concern within the US, together with illegal killings of civilians, LGBTQ rights and the precise to peaceable meeting.

“Our history is built on our Bill of Rights and the First Amendment … that guarantees the right to peaceful assembly, free speech and free expression”, Joanne Lin, Amnesty’s nationwide advocacy director, instructed Al Jazeera.

“But as we have seen in our own country, those rights can be placed in great peril and are often under tremendous assault, especially during times of crisis.”

COVID-19 pressures

The report says the issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought about lockdowns – leading to widespread job loss – and an “[i]nadequate and uneven government responses” that had a “disproportionate and discriminatory impact on many people based on their race, socioeconomic situations and other characteristics.”

The pandemic additionally hit these incarcerated within the US, who’re disproportionately individuals of color, “due to insanitary conditions in prisons and detention where they were unable to adequately physically distance and had inadequate access to hygienic supplies”.

2020 04 11T000000Z 925618000 RC2N2G9KZ1N4 RTRMADP 3 HEALTH CORONAVIRUS USA PRISONSFamily and other people involved concerning the security and well being of jail inmates throughout the COVID-19 outbreak protest outdoors the Washington state capitol as efforts proceed to sluggish the unfold of the coronavirus, on April 11, 2020 [File: Jason Redmond/Reuters]

Numerous prisons and jails throughout the US skilled critical outbreaks.

Some lessened their populations to create area for incarcerated individuals by early launch programmes initially of the pandemic, such because the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, California. These appeared to end in decrease COVID-19 instances.

Still, systemic points continued, and plenty of jails and prisons slowed their inmate launch programmes, in accordance to the Prison Policy Initiative.

As not too long ago as January, a metropolis jail in St Louis, Missouri housed a COVID-positive pretrial detainee for 14 days earlier than authorities had been knowledgeable, in response to paperwork obtained by Al Jazeera.

Assembly and extreme power

The report focuses on 2020, the final yr of former President Donald Trump’s time period of workplace. The report says the “Trump administration’s broadly dismal human rights record, both at home and abroad, deteriorated further during 2020.”

Amnesty notes that no less than 1,000 individuals had been killed by police firearms and that publicly out there knowledge suggests the killings disproportionately have an effect on Black individuals.

2021 03 20T011126Z 59579313 RC2PEM94OORJ RTRMADP 3 USA RACE GEORGEFLOYDBlack Lives Matter demonstrators march in St Paul, Minnesota, the US on March 19, 2021 [Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters]

Further, legislation enforcement dedicated “widespread and egregious human rights violations against people protesting about the unlawful killings of Black people and calling for police reform” throughout the summer time uprisings.

Amnesty “documented 125 separate incidents of unlawful police violence against protesters in 40 states and Washington, DC, between 26 May and 5 June alone”, the report says.

Discrimination based mostly on nation of origin, gender and intercourse

Members of the LGBTQ neighborhood additionally confronted continued difficulties within the US, in response to knowledge launched that yr.

“Hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity remained high in 2019 for a fifth consecutive year. Trans women of colour were especially targeted for violent hate crimes and killings”, the report says, citing the launched knowledge.

The challenges had been made worse by the Trump administration’s use of “courts to continue to dismantle protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in education, the military, employment and other areas of federal government”, the report claims.

000 R02AIProtesters collect in entrance of the White House on July 26, 2017 [File: Paul J Richards/AFP]

The administration of President Joe Biden has taken steps to dismantle these strikes.

Biden reversed a Trump order barring most trans individuals from serving within the army on January 25.

The Pentagon introduced final week that it’ll set new rules relating to trans servicemembers, ending the Trump-era restrictions.

Biden gained November polls on a centrist platform, promising to undo most of Trump’s insurance policies, together with these seen as threats to the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants.

Trump instituted a hard-line migration coverage that confronted near-constant criticism from rights teams and his political adversaries. The apply of detaining migrant kids in “cages” drew explicit ire.

Biden has confronted criticism for what some view as a comparable apply alongside the US-Mexico border. Facilities for unaccompanied migrant kids that had been criticised by Democrats underneath Trump are actually reopening amid a surge in migration, because the Biden administration begins processing their claims for asylum.

“One of the hallmarks is how the government treats migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and people in search of humanitarian protection,” Lin stated.

While the US has “started to process the claims of unaccompanied children seeking protection at the border, the Biden administration still is made very clear that the border is closed to adults who are in search of asylum and humanitarian protection. And that is terribly problematic,” she stated.

Lin famous that holding the border closed “violates US obligations under the Refugee Convention” and its “commitment to providing due process and a fair day in court”, that are assured by the US Constitution.

“So, the current administration has sought to undo some of the damage from the prior administration, but there’s still so much more that they need to do”, Lin concluded.