Mar 13, 2019
President Donald Trump's State Department was remarkably candid in its annual human rights report.
"The policy of this administration is to engage with other governments, regardless of their record, if doing so will further U.S. interests," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo writes in the preface to the report. The document, formally called the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, was released on Wednesday.
The admission caught the eyes of Amnesty International USA, which called it "astonishing to see this memorialized in black and white in the official human rights report issued by the U.S. government, a report that has long been viewed by world leaders as a weighty credible assessment on the records of countries around the world."
"This statement signals to world leaders including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Egypt's President Sisi that the U.S. doesn't care about human rights and will forgive or forget even the most atrocious human rights abuses," the organization said in a statement.
Sisi has been called "the most repressive dictator in modern Egyptian history" and accused of pushing his country "even further towards authoritarianism" with a rule marked by the trampling on human and civil rights, including "a relentless nationwide crackdown against all forms of dissent."
Saudi Arabia--a key U.S. ally--was just rebuked by three dozen nations for its record on human rights. The kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, sometimes referred to as MbS, is "a leader with an iron hand who despite facade reforms has plunged his country into increased repression and leads a now-three-year war in Yemen rife with war crimes," according to Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch.
[The State depart report] notes Saudi Arabia's killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but avoids all mention of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who U.S. intelligence services believe ordered the pre-meditated murder.
Other aspects of the State Department report drew criticism as well.
As it did last year, the department did not address reproductive rights. "This administration is erasing women's rights one bad policy at a time," responded the Center for Reproductive Rights in a tweet.
The report also ignores international view and refers to the West Bank, Gaza, and, in a first the Golan Heights as "Israeli-controlled" rather than Israeli-occupied.
The United Nations describes the three areas as Israeli-occupied.
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