Major powers, including allies, criticized the United States for its human rights record today during a United Nations review, citing the use of the death penalty, police violence against African Americans and the separation of migrant children from their families at the US-Mexico border.
Activists also said that the UN Human Rights Council’s examination of the US, the first since May 2015, amounted to an indictment of the Trump administration’s policies and called for president-elect Joe Biden to usher in reforms, Reuters reports from Geneva, Switzerland.
Dozens of delegations took the floor at the half-day session to voice concerns and make recommendations.
“What we saw today was unsurprising condemnation by many countries around the world of the United States’ human rights record,” Jamil Dakwar, director of the human rights program at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told a news briefing.
“We’ve heard country after country…calling and urging the United States to take serious measures to address structural racism and police violence,” he said.
The Trump administration, which quit the Geneva forum in June 2018 accusing it of an anti-Israel bias, defended US policies.
“Our presence in this process demonstrates our nation’s commitment to human rights,” Robert Destro, US assistant secretary of state, told the talks.
The case of George Floyd, a Black American man who was killed in Minneapolis in May after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, ignited massive protests across the United States and the world, putting the country’s human rights record in the global spotlight once again.
China and Russia called on the United States to root out racism and police violence, while Cuba and Venezuela said it must provide equal access to health care during the Covid-19 pandemic.
France called on US authorities to halt executions at the federal level, close Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and “guarantee women and girls access to their rights and sexual and reproductive health.”
Britain called for “ensuring access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.”
Joshua Cooper of the US Human Rights Network, a national network of campaigners, said that more than a dozen countries voiced concern at the U.S. position on family planning.
“The United States made clear that they don’t see abortion as a human right,” said Denice Labertew of the Women LEAD network, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles.