[JURIST] A surge in populist leaders in Europe and the US threatens human rights while inviting autocratic abuse in other nations, according to the 2017 World Report [report, PDF] released Thursday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The report argues that “mounting public discontent over the status quo” has led to the appeal of populists in powerful positions:
In this cauldron of discontent, certain politicians are flourishing and even gaining power by portraying rights as protecting only the terrorist suspect or the asylum seeker at the expense of the safety, economic welfare, and cultural preferences of the presumed majority. They scapegoat refugees, immigrant communities, and minorities. Truth is a frequent casualty. Nativism, xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia are on the rise.
HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth warned that continued support for such leaders may lead to the erosion of the human rights movement that has emerged following World War II. The report calls for a “reaffirmation and defense” of the values upon which our basic human rights are based, and for journalists and media to draw attention to these dangerous trends.
The report directly cites the Trump administration’s “dangerous rhetoric” in its race for the White House. US President-elect Donald Trump [official website] this week called for [JURIST report] congress to quickly repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a suitable alternative. Also this week Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions [official profile] had his confirmation hearing [JURIST report] before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the position of attorney general, amid criticisms for his previous comments regarding race. Last month the Obama administration announced it would dismantle [JURIST report] the dormant national registry program that was used to keep tabs on visitors from countries with active terrorist groups, in an attempt to deter the possibility of the Muslim registry that Trump promised on the campaign trail.