A world of impunity: pandemic accelerates erosion of freedoms, according to the US

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A world of impunity: pandemic accelerates erosion of freedoms, according to the US
Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State. (Reuters)

In the State Department’s report on human rights, the US assures that the covid has served as an excuse for autocratic governments and again accuses China of genocide

The COVID-19 pandemic has served as an excuse for autocratic leaders to continue to erode the fundamental freedoms of their own citizens. That is the main conclusion drawn from the annual report on Human Rights published by the United States this Tuesday night, the first published under the mandate of Democrat Joe Biden. 

From China – which it has once again accused of genocide for the treatment of the Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang – to Belarus, from Nigeria to Venezuela or Russia, the publication describes a world in which the rights of millions of people are being besieged by their own governments.

“These and other ongoing rights abuses cause untold damage well beyond the borders of any single country; unchecked human rights abuses anywhere can contribute to a sense of impunity everywhere,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken writes in the preface.

At first, Blinken recognizes that the US still has work to do within its borders on human rights, including the “systematic racism” that exists in American society. “That is what separates our democracy from autocracies: our ability and commitment to confront our own mistakes and seek a more perfect coexistence,” he later stated at a press conference.

Furthermore, Blinken dismissed the idea of ​​a foreign policy focused solely on “national interests,” in a veiled reference to the Trump Administration. “Standing up and supporting human rights in the world is in the interests of the United States,” he later said in a Press conference. “The Biden-Harris Administration will stand up against human rights abuses wherever they occur, be they, adversaries or partners.”

Changes with the Trump era

The report was prepared by the Embassies of the United States together with the State Department in the final stretch of the Donald Trump administration, but with the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House some controversial aspects have been modified, such as the reproductive rights of women in the world and their access to contraceptives, as well as mortality during pregnancy, an issue that had been downgraded in previous reports.

Blinken asked officials to include information on this issue because “women’s rights—including sexual and reproductive rights—are human rights,” he told reporters at the report’s presentation.

Another of the most controversial aspects of the report is the mention of the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party and the “genocide” they are carrying out against the Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang.

“In China, government authorities committed genocide against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and crimes against humanity including imprisonment, torture, enforced sterilization, and persecution against Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”