President-elect Joe Biden should bring “fundamental change” to U.S. policy on human rights and allow criminal investigations of President Donald Trump to “show that the president is not above the law,” the head of Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
Kenneth Roth, the advocacy group’s executive director, lamented “four years of Trump’s indifference and often hostility to human rights” and his support for autocratic leaders and dictators in ways that eroded U.S. credibility.
Roth said the Biden administration should look to cement human rights in U.S. policy and decry past policies like George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” as well as intensified drone strikes and surveillance under Barack Obama.
“After four years of Trump’s indifference and often hostility to human rights, including his provoking a mob assault on democratic processes in the Capitol, the Biden presidency provides an opportunity for fundamental change,” Roth said.
But even as the U.S. rejoins efforts to support human rights, Roth insisted it “would be naive” to treat a Biden presidency as a cure-all.
He said Biden should also “allow justice to pursue its course with respect to Trump to show that the president is not above the law, resisting the ‘look forward, not back’ rationale that Obama used to ignore torture under Bush.”
The comments come as Human Rights Watch issued its annual “World Report 2021” that chronicles concerns about human rights in more than 100 countries around the world.
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