Trump Poses 'Profound Threat' to Human Rights, Could Lead to 'Tyranny,' Top Rights Group Says

'Disregard for human rights offers the likeliest route to tyranny,' Human Rights Watch warns on Trump and rise of populism in EU.

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U.S.President-elect Donald Trump gestures to people in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., January 13, 2017.
U.S.President-elect Donald Trump gestures to people in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., January 13, 2017.Credit: SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and the rise of populist leaders in Europe poses a "profound threat" to human rights, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch warned on Thursday in its annual global report.

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The 687-page report reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

"Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny and nativism," Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said. "The rise of populism poses a profound threat to human rights."

"They all claim that the public accepts violations of human rights as supposedly necessary to secure jobs, avoid cultural change or prevent terrorist attacks. In fact, disregard for human rights offers the likeliest route to tyranny," he said.

Trump will take office on January 20. Roth cited Trump's election campaign and a successful campaign for Britain to leave the European Union as "vivid illustrations" of the politics of intolerance. In France, Marine Le Pen, head of the anti-EU, anti-immigrant National Front, is campaigning for the presidency.

Roth was also critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping for their crackdowns on dissent, and he accuses Syrian President Bashar Assad of flouting the laws of war by targeting civilians in the country's conflict.

"We forget at our peril the demagogues of the past: the fascists, communists and their ilk who claimed privileged insight into the majority's interest but ended up crushing the individual," Roth said.

He said voters around the globe needed to demand politics based on truth and the values of a rights-respecting democracy.

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