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GENEVA — US President-elect Joe Biden should bring “fundamental change” to US policy on human rights and allow criminal investigations of President Donald Trump, the head of Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

Executive Director Kenneth Roth laid out a long wish-list for the incoming administration, saying he hopes it will join efforts to improve human rights that other countries have been largely shouldering during Trump’s term.

“After four years of Trump’s indifference and often hostility to human rights, including his provoking a mob assault on democratic processes in the Capitol, the Biden presidency provides an opportunity for fundamental change,” Roth said.

The comments come as Human Rights Watch issued its annual “World Report 2021” that chronicles concerns about human rights in more than 100 countries around the world.

The Trump administration has been outspoken on human rights abuses in places like Venezuela and in particular China, going after Beijing for its crackdowns in Tibet, Hong Kong and the western Xinjiang region.

But Trump pulled the United States out of the UN-backed Human Rights Council more than two years ago, alleging it has an anti-Israel bias and has been too accepting of governments that regularly violate human rights.

Under Trump, the “occasional US condemnation of human rights in places like Venezuela, Cuba or Iran rang hollow when parallel praise was bestowed on the likes of Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia…or Israel,” Roth said.

“To sum it up, Donald Trump was a disaster for human rights,” he said, while insisting it “would be naive” to treat a Biden presidency as a cure-all.

Roth cited past policies like George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” as well as intensified drone strikes and surveillance under Barack Obama, saying Biden should look to cement human rights into US policy for the long term.

He said Biden should also “allow justice to pursue its course with respect to Trump to show that the president is not above the law, resisting the ‘look forward, not back’ rationale that Obama used to ignore torture under Bush.”

Roth said social media platforms “did the right thing and perhaps even belatedly” by suspending Trump’s accounts, arguing that the president had used them to “encourage white supremacists, to foment hatred, obviously to spread lies about –- the big lie about — his supposed electoral win.”

“But most important: To foment the mob that attacked the Capitol,” he added.

Roth said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ term “hasn’t been great” when it comes to human rights, faulting him for not naming perpetrators and speaking more often to condemn rights abuses more broadly.

“The real test of Guterres’ effectiveness is, you know, does somebody feel the heat from his commentary on human rights?” Roth said. “And the answer generally is no, because he doesn’t name anybody.”

He said he hoped governments — especially the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — would “press him on a more outspoken, targeted commitment to human rights.” China and Russia are two of those members — and they often face scrutiny and criticism of advocacy groups like Roth’s.

Filed under donald trump ,  human rights watch ,  joe biden ,  united nations ,  1/13/21

News Source: New York Post

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Pro-gun Demonstration Set for Virginia Capital in Wake of Capitol Siege

Gun rights activists will converge on the Virginia state capital on Monday for an annual demonstration that falls at an especially tense time this year, after the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol and two days before the presidential inauguration.

"Lobby Day" has authorities on alert in Richmond, about 110 miles south of Washington, D.C., where Democrat President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on Wednesday, replacing Republican President Donald Trump.

Lobby Day takes place in a highly polarized climate, following a year in which anti-racist and white nationalist demonstrators clashed across the United States, and as strident Trump supporters cling to hope he can remain in power.

Nationwide pro-Trump demonstrations scheduled for Sunday largely fizzled after the FBI issued warnings and several states deployed the National Guard.

"Were showing up to remind them that were still here," a gun rights activist, who identified himself only as Trevor, told Reuters outside the Virginia statehouse on Sunday evening, walking the perimeter to help plan the protest.

Virginians traditionally petition their lawmakers on Lobby Day at the start of the states General Assembly session, with the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League taking a leading role in recent years.

Other groups including the anti-government "boogaloo" movement will attend Monday, as could liberal demonstrators. Lobby Day always falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday honoring the civil rights leader assassinated in 1968.

Boogaloo boys also walked the perimeter of the statehouse on Sunday, striking poses with semiautomatic rifles for photographers.

Philip Van Cleave, leader of the defense league, said demonstrators would come from as far away as New York and Texas. The group says it plans to petition state lawmakers to loosen gun curbs, as it has done during many Lobby Days in the past.

"Weve been doing this for 25 years," Van Cleve added. "Weve never had a single problem. No arrests, nothing."

Police estimated last years crowd at 22,000. 

© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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