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HRW: Populist demagogues threaten human rights

Executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, discusses the danger posed by the rise of authoritarian leaders in US and Europe.

Kenneth Roth

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for states and citizens to resist the challenges of what it calls "populist demagogues". In its annual report, the group described US President Donald Trump's policies as "racially divisive".

But it welcomed the part played by popular movements and legal challenges in countries including the US, Hungary and Poland in resisting government threats to human rights. The report warns that some countries have stepped back from championing human rights - the UK, because of its preoccupation with Brexit and some European countries influenced by xenophobic parties.

It says that has left a vacuum, allowing mass atrocities to go unchecked in countries including Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and South Sudan. But it says a number of other countries have stepped in, highlighting the role of Canada, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg in holding Saudi Arabia to account over its conduct in the war in Yemen.

Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, explained "why the big news of last year is the outpouring of resistance" to unjust leaders.


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