GENEVA: The U.N. human rights chief said Wednesday he is "dismayed" by U.S. President Donald Trump's attempts to "intimidate or undermine" journalists and judges, and expressed concerns about the impact of a Trump order that bans people of six mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein chronicled a litany of human rights concerns worldwide, including "chilling indifference" among some leaders in the European Union toward migrants, a crackdown on lawyers and activists in China, and a new Russian law that may have been used "arbitrarily" to curb free expression.
Faced with upheaval, violence and repression in places as diverse as the Philippines, Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Venezuela and beyond, Zeid — a Jordanian prince — had no shortage of topics to decry in his 37-minute speech to the Human Rights Council on Wednesday.
Referring to the U.S., Zeid said "greater and more consistent leadership is needed to address the recent surge in discrimination, anti-Semitism, and violence against ethnic and religious minorities," and pointed to the harm caused by "vilification of entire groups such as Mexicans and Muslims."
"I am dismayed at attempts by the president to intimidate or undermine journalists and judges," Zeid said, referring to Trump. "I am also concerned about new immigration policies that ban admission of people from six predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days," he said, alluding to a new executive order affecting people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
After his office cited reports about over 100 people killed in clashes in central Congo last month, Zeid urged the council to investigate "recurrent reports of grave violations and the recent discovery of three more mass graves." He didn't elaborate on the discovery of the mass graves and his office could not immediately provide further details.
Zeid said Bahrain, Gambia, Indonesia, Jordan and Kuwait recently backed away from their commitments to halt the death penalty, lamenting "these retrograde trends." He said China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan account for nearly 90 percent of all executions worldwide, and said Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Turkey and the Philippines planned to reinstate capital punishment.
He said the rights office would soon release a report about suspected human rights violations in southeast Turkey, saying its "remote monitoring" has turned up "credible indications of hundreds of deaths" even though his teams have not had access to the area.