WASHINGTON - The deteriorating human rights situation in the US cannot be fully assigned to the policies of incumbent President Donald Trump , as he inherited a number of issues from previous administrations, senior director for research at the Amnesty International human rights watchdog, told Sputnik.
"What is happening in the United States now has not been there for many years, not under Democratic, not under Republican presidents. But part of the problem, in particular Guantanamo, was not invented by Trump," Anna Neistat, senior director for research at the Amnesty International human rights watchdog said, referring to a detention camp established by then US President George W. Bush's administration in 2002.
Earlier in the day, Amnesty International released its annual report <link> in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 2018. The report indicates that the human rights situation in the United States has deteriorated since Trump took office in January 2017. In particular, the report accuses Trump of "hate-filled rhetoric" and condemns his administration's immigration policies that bar people of certain countries from seeking asylum in the United States and threats to increase detainees at Guantanamo Bay <link> .
Trump's presidency did worsen problems like violence in prisons and the illegal use of weapons by the police but has not been the root cause, Neistat stressed.
"We see that [Trump] is not ready to take any steps to solve this [Guantanamo] problem… or the problem of violence in prisons, the problem with police using weapons — in many cases illegally. All these problems that his presidency has aggravated, but did not introduce.
Neistat stated that Amnesty International was conducting a major project in the United States dedicated to gun violence. One of the main issues surrounding this problem, according to the watchdog, lies between the internationally recognized right to life and the right to bear arms that is cemented in the US Constitution.
"We do not compare the right to carry arms with the right to life, but nevertheless, we have to remember that the right to carry arms is specifically American, it is anchored in the Constitution and is not related to international human rights. The right to life is protected by the international system of human rights, part of which is the United States. So, we do not talk about actions made by individuals, we talk about state system, which allows these actions to take lives of other people," Neistat said.
The Amnesty International report, released on Friday, also slammed the Trump administration's bid to construct a wall along the US-Mexico border; and decisions to end several programs for immigrants, such as the Central American Minors program that allowed children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to request refugee status, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation.