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Human Rights Watch again calls on United States President-elect Donald Trump to repudiate the dangerous proposals he made and the divisive rhetoric he used during the presidential election campaign. Ten days after his electoral victory, Trump has tempered some of his rhetoric, but he has thus far failed to clearly and unequivocally retract any of his proposals that would either directly violate US law and universal human rights norms or harm millions of people.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally in Manhattan, New York. © 2016 Reuters

These include suggestions that, as president, he would:

  • Revise US laws to permit torture;
  • Increase the number of terrorism suspects detained indefinitely without trial at Guantanamo Bay;
  • Subject Syrian refugees, Muslim immigrants, and certain nationals to onerous vetting or registration procedures that could endanger individuals and prolong family separations;
  • Conduct mass deportations of 2 to 3 million immigrants;
  • Eliminate much of the Affordable Care Act, with no clear plan to ensure that the significant gains in access to health care under the act are not reversed;
  • Restrict women’s right to access abortion in his choice of Supreme Court nominees;
  • Undermine freedom of the press by making it easier to sue the media.

Trump has also failed to repudiate the racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric that he, his staff, and segments of his supporters deployed during the election campaign to the great alarm of many people both in the US and around the world.

The stakes are high. Trump’s victory has been hailed by authoritarian leaders around the world, including Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as well as by populist and nationalist parties in Europe that are making electoral gains on racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant political platforms similar to Trump’s. Their rise marks a serious and growing political trend that threatens core human right principles around the globe.  

Evidence over decades shows us where this politics leads: when a society supports curtailing rights for some people — refugees, minorities, women, the disabled — governments will use this as an excuse, over time, to diminish everyone’s rights and overturn the rule of law. Once surrendered, rights and the rule of law are hard to restore.

Human Rights Watch, a leading defender of human rights worldwide, will closely examine the policies, practices, appointments, and other actions of the Trump administration, as we have monitored those of past administrations in the US and abroad. We will call out and vigorously oppose all statements and acts that show disdain for human rights or do not conform with international human rights standards.

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