The United Nations’ top human rights official claimed that President Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte are “breaking long-held taboos” by failing to rebuke the use of torture.
According to multiple reports, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said before an audience late Monday, “The president of the Philippines has spoken openly about extra-judicial killings. And the president of the United States of America has said that torture could be necessary in certain circumstances. There is no longer any pretense. They are breaking long-held taboos.”
During the 2017 U.S. presidential campaign, Trump voiced his support of waterboarding as an intelligence-gathering tactic under certain conditions, but noted that he would allow Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to issue such directives.
Regardless, Zeid contended that he is concerned about Trump’s “persistent flirtation” with the idea of utilizing torture, especially if the U.S. was attacked and provoked to employ the tactic.
“Mindful of how the American public has, over the last 10 years, become far more accepting of torture, the balance could be tipped in favor of its practice,” Zeid said.
Zeid asserted that Duterte is at fault for having ordered police to kill approximately 9,000 drug users and dealers since he became president of the Philippines. He criticized May for remarks she made to The Sun following the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.
“If human rights laws get in the way of doing these things, we will change those laws to make sure we can do them,” May said.
“Whatever the intention behind her remarks, they were highly regrettable, a gift from a major Western leader to every authoritarian figure around the world who shamelessly violates human rights under the pretext of fighting terrorism,” Zeid said.
According to Zeid, if other leaders follow the example of Trump, Duterte and May, it would undermine the U.N. Convention against Torture and the “practice of torture is likely to broaden, and that would be fatal.”
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