Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sudanese human rights demonstrators in Edinburgh, Scotland on June 4, 2019. (Photo: Ken Jack/Getty Images)

Sudanese demonstrators outside the Scottish Parliament call on the Scottish and UK governments to take action on the situation in Sudan, where many people have been killed during political unrest and factional fighting, on June 4, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images)

Report Details How Trump Downplays, Ignores Grave Human Rights Violations Around the World

One expert accused the administration of "using all the tools at its disposal to undermine our asylum system."

Brett Wilkins

The Trump administration whitewashes grave human rights violations perpetrated by favored nations, according to a new report published Wednesday.

The Aslyum Research Centre (ARC) released "A Comparative Analysis of U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices," which details "serious omissions of human rights issues and inadequately substantiated reports of improvements in the U.S. State Department's country reports." 

"We are concerned that these omissions have the effect of denying the existence of rights or abuses and may result in certain types of asylum claims being dismissed."
—Liz Williams, ARC

ARC compared the State Department's assessment of the human rights situation in five countries—Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Sudan—in 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, with the reports published during the first three years of President Donald Trump's administration.

The ARC report provides insight into the Trump administration's flagrant disregard for human rights around the world. However, it also lacks broader context in terms of U.S. foreign policy. 

First, the report fails to take into account the fact that under every presidential administration the U.S. has perpetrated, supported, and ignored serious human rights violations around the world, including genocide, terrorism, apartheid, drug trafficking, and severe repression

Second, in comparing the Trump and Obama administrations, the report fails to note that the latter also supported or ignored slavery, brutal dictatorships, state repression, ethnic cleansing, and even the conscription of child soldiers in two of the five countries listed in the report—a dubious precedent continued under Trump.

Still, the ARC report offers an incisive look at the specific types of human rights abuses the Trump administration—which has also rolled back civil, political, and human rights for women, minorities, refugees, LGBTQ people, and others in the United States—is willing to ignore. 

Critics say that by downplaying these abuses abroad, the administration is laying the groundwork to deny victims aslyum in the U.S. 

"We are concerned that these omissions have the effect of denying the existence of rights or abuses and may result in certain types of asylum claims being dismissed if the U.S. Department of State reports are relied upon in isolation," said ARC co-director Liz Williams in an introduction to the report.

Kate Jastram, director of policy and advocacy at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, said in the report's introduction that it "documents what we unfortunately know to be true—that the Trump administration is using all the tools at its disposal to undermine our asylum system."

"Asylum officers and immigration judges rely on these reports to make life-and-death decisions," added Jastram. "ARC's careful analysis demonstrates how the reports have been distorted, particularly downplaying women's rights and LGBTQ rights. It's another shocking example of how cynical the administration has been in undermining due process and basic fairness in asylum adjudication." 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Trump Says Mar-a-Lago 'Under Siege, Raided, and Occupied' by FBI

"The accountability our democracy desperately needs for its survival might, just might, be a real possibility," said the head of a watchdog group.

Common Dreams staff ·


New Ad Against Herschel Walker Features Ex-Wife's Domestic Violence Accusations

A leader at the anti-Trump group behind the advertisement targeting the U.S. Senate candidate said that "our campaign is built around the voices of Georgia Republicans who know that he's unfit for office."

Jessica Corbett ·


Michigan AG Urges Probe of Alleged GOP-Led Effort to Break Into Voting Machines

"We must denounce the Big Lie and those who refuse to uphold the will of the people in our elections," said one democracy defender.

Brett Wilkins ·


Hopes Rise for Return to Iran Nuclear Deal Destroyed by Trump

"We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line," said one negotiator, who added that "three or four issues" that are "sensitive for Iranians and Americans" remain to be resolved.

Brett Wilkins ·


Sinema Received Over $500K From Private Equity Before Shielding Industry From Tax Hikes

"Remember the days when taking half a million bucks from an industry, and then passing legislation that only benefits that industry, while passing the costs onto everyone else, would be called corruption?" asked one critic. "Today it's just lobbying as usual."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo