The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein warns the entire human rights system is under attack, stoked by fears of terrorism, and xenophobic rhetoric by populist politicians. The High Commissioner presented his annual report on the state of human rights around the world to the UN Human Rights Council.
Human Rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein highlighted recent developments in more than 40 countries. Among this group, he notes only four countries—Gambia, Uzbekistan, Tunisia, and Greece—have made some improvements in human rights. Otherwise, his appraisal of the human rights situation globally is uniformly bleak.
South Sudan, Burundi
For example, he deplores the violence and destruction in South Sudan, where famine is spreading. He accuses the warring parties of repeatedly engaging in alleged war crimes, including killings, rape and sexual violence, disappearances and pillage.
He says he is very concerned about the situation in Burundi where the democratic space now has been virtually extinguished.
“Grave human rights violations and abuses by security forces and the Imbonerakure militia continue to be reported, including increasing allegations of enforced disappearances, torture and mass arbitrary arrests,” said Zeid.
Turning to the Middle East, he condemns the bombs and other shocking terrorist attacks against civilians in Turkey, but expresses concern about government measures under the state of emergency, which appear to target criticism, not terrorism.
“The fact that tens of thousands of people have been dismissed, arrested, detained or prosecuted following the attempted coup—including numerous democratically elected representatives, judges and journalists—raises serious alarm about due process guarantees being met,” said Zeid.
The High Commissioner also finds fault with several of the world’s super powers. He criticizes China for detaining lawyers and activists who fight for the rights of others. He deplores Russia’s curbs on political dissent, freedom of expression and religion.
In the United States, he expresses concern about President Trump’s vilification of entire groups such as Mexicans and Muslims. He warns the collective expulsions and deportations of immigrants could be in breach of international law, if undertaken without due process guarantees.