The American Civil Liberties Union has delivered a harsh rebuke of the Trump administration to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The statement submitted by Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s human rights program, observed that the Trump administration has ignored repeated requests by the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, to be allowed to go to the U.S.-Mexican border. (In December, for example, Morales requested an investigation into the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan migrant girl, Jakelin Ameí Caal.)
The United States has now allowed 22 requests by U.N. special rapporteurs to go unanswered.
The statement said “the Trump administration has escalated its hostility toward human rights bodies including the apparent severing of relationships with independent experts appointed to monitor and report on human rights violations.”
The ACLU also noted the Trump administration did not deliver routine reports to the U.N. committee on the elimination of racial discrimination or the U.N. committee against torture.
“These issues raise serious concerns regarding the U.S. commitment to human rights and the international rule of law,” the statement said.
The purpose of the statement was to “go on record, to make sure there is a comprehensive assessment of . . . U.S. lack of cooperation and disengagement with international institutions,” Dakwar told The Washington Post.
A second aim, he said, was to “have the U.S. Congress look into this deterioration, in the United States’ standing and engagement with the most important human rights bodies at the regional and international level.” He pointed in particular to the new Democrat-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Trump administration pulled the United States out of the Human Rights Council last year. At the time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “its membership includes authoritarian governments with unambiguous and abhorrent human rights records, such as China, Cuba and Venezuela. And the council’s continued and well-documented bias against Israel is unconscionable.”
The United Nations has served as a forum to amplify ACLU criticism of the Trump administration before. Last September, after national security adviser John Bolton announced that the United States would sanction or prosecute International Criminal Court judges who investigated or prosecuted U.S. citizens, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents on the reasoning behind his decision, a move that coincided with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly.
That FOIA request didn’t appear to slow down the Trump administration — last Friday, Pompeo announced the United States would revoke or deny the visas of ICC personnel looking to investigate alleged war crimes by Americans. Dakwar said the ACLU intends to file a FOIA lawsuit to make the Trump administration explain the legal underpinnings for its decision — and Pompeo’s announcement was “an additional outrageous attack on the independence and legitimacy of the very institutions that were created in the last several decades to fight impunity and to uphold international justice.”