Human Rights Record of the United States in 2018
State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China
On March 13 local time, the State Department of the United States released its 2018 country reports on human rights practices, continued pointing fingers at and slandering human rights situations in over 190 countries, while blindly ignoring its own serious human rights problems. If one takes a glimpse into the human rights situation of the United States in 2018, it will not be difficult to find that the United States government, a self-styled "human rights defender," has a human rights record which is flawed and lackluster, and the double standards of human rights it pursues are obvious.
-- Gun violence poses grave danger. There were a total of 57,103 gun violence incidents in the United States in 2018, leaving 14,717 killed and 28,172 injured. The number of children and teens killed or injured was 3,502. Gun violence has shortened the life expectancy of Americans by nearly 2.5 years.
-- Religious intolerance remarks were on the rise. The mid-term elections in 2018 saw a surge of anti-Muslim opinions. A report found that conspiracy theories targeting Muslims have increasingly entered the political mainstream. "More than a third have claimed that Muslims are inherently violent or pose an imminent threat," and "Just under a third of the candidates considered have called for Muslims to be denied basic rights or declared that Islam is not a religion."
-- Internet surveillance becomes a common practice. The warrantless wiretapping program PRISM is operating around the clock, vacuuming up emails, Facebook messages, Google chats, Skype calls, and the like.
-- Money politics prevail in the United States. The total cost of the 2018 mid-term elections was 5.2 billion U.S. dollars, a 35 percent increase over 2014 in nominal dollars, making them by far the most expensive mid-term elections on record. The U.S. government is representing the super rich.
-- The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. The share of the top 1 percent of the population in the United States owned 38.6 percent of total wealth. In relation to both wealth and income, the share of the general public has fallen continuously. Nearly half of the American households live in financial difficulties and 18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty.
-- Hate crimes surged to new height. A report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in November 2018 said hate crimes rose by about 17 percent to 7,175 cases in the United States in 2017. Offenses motivated by racial prejudice made up about 60 percent of hate crimes, with African-Americans being targeted in nearly half of them.
-- The living conditions of African-Americans are worrisome. The median white family has about 10 times as much wealth as the median black family. African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites, about twice as likely to be in unemployment as whites, and more than 6 times as likely as whites to be incarcerated. The infant mortality rate is 1.3 times higher for African Americans, whose average life expectancy is about 3.5 years shorter than whites.
-- There were endless school shootings. Last year, a total of 94 school shootings occurred across the United States and left 163 people dead or injured, making it the worst year on record with the most school shooting cases and the most severe casualties. Violent incidents in schools also increased 113 percent from the previous school year.
-- Women are living in fear of sexual harassment and sexual assaults. A survey found that 81 percent of women interviewed had experienced some form of sexual harassment, and 27 percent said they had been sexually assaulted.
-- Immigration policy separated children from parents. A new "zero tolerance" policy inaugurated by the U.S. government in April 2018 has separated at least 2,000 migrant children from their families. There has also been a startling increase in the number of instances where U.S. Border Patrol officers have mistreated or sexually abused juvenile migrants.
-- Flagrantly withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council. The Atlantic said in an online analysis that one of the most likely, and most insidious, arguments for the move is to prevent the United States from being called out on its own alleged human-rights abuses.
I. Frequent Infringement on Civil Rights
The United States reported frequent occurrence of violent crime cases, rampant gun crimes and the abuse of power by public officers, while surveillance was unchecked and unscrupulous and press freedom was hollow.
Serious violent crimes took place frequently. According to the 2017 edition of the FBI’s annual report, Crime in the United States, released in September 2018, there were an estimated 1,247,321 violent crimes, including 17,284 incidents of murder, 135,755 rapes, 810,825 aggravated assaults, as well as 319,356 robberies. Among the cases, 72.6 percent of murders, 40.6 percent of robberies, and 26.3 percent of aggravated assaults were committed with firearms (www.ucr.fbi.gov). Chicago was named as one of the most dangerous big cities in the United States, as hundreds of people were murdered each year in recent years. On August 4 and 5, 74 people in the city were shot, and 12 of them died. Tens of thousands of young Americans fled from the cities with rampant violent crimes (Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2018).
Gun violence continued to be rampant. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, the United States reported 57,103 incidents of gun violence, resulting in 14,717 deaths, 28,172 injuries, including casualties of 3,502 juveniles (www.gunviolencearchive.org, data recorded on February 24, 2019). On May 18, in a mass shooting in the Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis killed 10 people and wounded more than 10 others with a shotgun and a pistol. Explosive devices were found inside the school and nearby (www.washingtonpost.com, May 19, 2018). On November 8, Marine Corps veteran Ian David Long broke into a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, fatally shooting 12 people and wounding many (www.nbcnews.com, November 9, 2018). The Huffington Post reported on December 6 that gun violence has shortened the life expectancy of Americans by nearly 2.5 years, with shooting driving down the average lifespan of African-Americans by 4.14 years, based on official data on gun deaths between 2000 and 2016.
Press freedom suffered from unprecedented blow. According to a May 2, 2018 report from the international non-governmental organization Article 19, the environment for the press in the United States has further deteriorated, with journalists occasionally being attacked, searched, arrested, intercepted at borders, and restricted from publishing public information. The U.S. government has often publicly and vehemently accused the media and journalists of making "fake news," creating an intimidating and hostile environment. Thomas Huges, executive director of Article 19, pointed out that threats to press freedom in the United States have been climbing alarmingly in recent years (www.article19.org, May 2, 2018). Newsweek published a story on August 16 that the standoff between the U.S. government and media in the past year has eroded the country’s press freedom.
The legitimate rights of interviewing by reporters were infringed. On November 7, 2018, to stop White House correspondent from CNN from asking follow-up questions, staff at the White House attempted to take the microphone away from the correspondent and revoked his press pass (uk.reuters.com, November 19, 2018). The Columbia Journalism Review reported on January 19 last year that the United States arrested journalists 34 times in 2017, nine of whom were accused of felony. The equipments of 15 journalists were confiscated, while 44 journalists suffered from personal attacks.
Religious intolerance remarks were on the rise. The Guardian reported on October 22, 2018 that during the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, anti-Muslim rhetoric increased dramatically, with report showing that conspiracy theories targeting Muslims have increasingly entered the political mainstream. "More than a third have claimed that Muslims are inherently violent or pose an imminent threat," the report found, adding that "just under a third of the candidates considered have called for Muslims to be denied basic rights or declared that Islam is not a religion."
Online surveillance by the U.S. government infringed individual privacy. It has become a common practice by the NSA, FBI, and CIA to gather and search through American's international emails, internet calls, and chats without obtaining a warrant. The PRISM program operates around the clock, wiretapping emails, Facebook messages, Google chats, Skype calls and the like without authorization (www.aclu.org, August 22, 2018).
A large number of protesters were arrested. The Chicago Tribune reported on June 28, 2018 that 575 people were arrested while protesting against the Trump administration's immigration policy in Washington D.C., most of whom were female. From September 4 to 6, U.S. Capitol Police arrested 212 people that protested Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, and another 300-plus protestors were arrested on October 4 (chicagotribune.com, June 28, 2018; thehill.com, September 6, 2018; edition.cnn.com, October 5, 2018). Reuters reported on December 11 that 32 religious leaders and activists were arrested at the U.S. border fence in San Diego during a protest to call for an end to the detention and deportation of the Central American migrants.
Miscarriage of justice resulted in wrongful convictions. In May, 2018 Philip Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights for the UN, published a report saying that in the U.S. justice system, wealthy defendants are allowed to regain their freedom through bails while poor defendants have no choice but to stay in jail. The New Yorker reported on February 6 that a jury in Bronx of New York City vindicated Edward Garry's 23-year quest to clear his name, finding him not guilty of a 1995 murder (newyorker.com, February 6, 2018).
The Washington Post reported on December 19, 2018 that a man from Baltimore was wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder. During the investigation of the case, local police did not investigate his alibi or other suspects, resulting in him serving 27 years in prison.
Public officers abusively exercised violence. According to reports released on the website of the U.S. Department of Justice on July 11 and November 8, former private prisoner transport officer Eric Scott Kindley committed, during his tenure, several armed sexual abuses or assaults on female prisoners, resulting in severe bodily and emotional harms to the victims. Several officers at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana were found to have beaten an inmate who was handcuffed and shackled, leaving the inmate with severe injuries. They also conspired to cover up the beating (www.justice.gov). The New York Daily News reported on December 18, 2018, citing the Associated Press, that two South Florida prison guards assaulted and intimidated several young inmates, severely infringing the rights of those detained.
II. Money Politics Prevail in the United States
The U.S. 2018 midterm elections cost a huge quantity of money. Elections became the games of money, with much involvement of "dark money" and corruption. Cases of politicians involved in corruption were not rare and the government served as the spokesperson of the rich.
The "most expensive" midterm elections in history. The 2018 midterm elections were proved to be by far the most expensive ones on record. The final cost of 2018 midterm elections stood at 5.2 billion U.S. dollars, a 35 percent increase over 2014 in nominal dollars, the Center for Responsive Politics said on November 8, 2018 (www.opensecrets.org, November 8, 2018). The Texas Senate race was the most expensive House or Senate race in U.S. history, with Democrat candidate Beto O'Rourke alone setting a record by raising 69.1 million U.S. dollars (www.usatoday.com, November 16, 2018).
Secret money donations and "dark money" swept over the elections. According to an NBC report on July 21, 2018, U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would no longer require most non-profit organizations to report their donors, making elections much less transparent. During the 2018 midterms, a record high of 98 million U.S. dollars in dark money were spent by outside groups other than the candidates' campaign committees. More than 40 percent of television advertisements broadcast by outside groups to influence congressional elections were financed by secret donors and over one-fourth of the advertising funds for House and Senate elections came from groups that did not disclose their donors. Airings by "dark money" groups in federal races since the 2014 midterms jumped by 26 percent (www.usatoday.com, July 12 and November 16, 2018).
Electoral corruption became severer. The Guardian reported on August 7, 2018, that U.S. elections were widely seen to be corrupt by the public. Members of Congress were viewed to be captured by corporations, wealthy donors and special interests groups. The average cost of winning a Senate seat was 19.4 million U.S. dollars while winning a House of Representatives seat would cost at least 1.5 million U.S. dollars on average. Election fraud such as using money in exchange for votes was common. According to a report of The New York Times on its website on November 20, 2018, the Los Angeles district attorney announced that nine people had been charged with paying homeless people with one dollar bills and some cigarettes in exchange for signing names on voter registration forms.
U.S. Government served as the spokesperson of the rich. According to a report released by Philip G. Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights for the UN, the combined wealth of the United States cabinet reached about 4.3 billion U.S. dollars, turning the U.S. government into the spokesperson of the rich people. Former Arkansas State Senator and State Representative Henry Wilkins accepted bribes in exchange for voting in favor of the intentions of lobbyists, according to a statement on the website of U.S. Justice Department on April 30, 2018. Influenced by lobbyists, Florida governor Rick Scott cut 700 million U.S. dollars in funding for water management, Miami Herald reported on August 2, 2018. The reduction led to a severe red tide crisis, causing the death of marine life and endangering the health of coastal residents.
Politicians' corruption scandals were seen constantly. Former Tallahassee mayor Scott Maddox faced a 44-count indictment including bribery, extortion and fraud, Miami Herald reported on December 8, 2018. A prominent Texas senator was accused of using her influence to try to end an investigation into a bar she and her husband owned, according to the website of the Houston Chronicle on June 8, 2018. The Week published an article titled "Corruption is eroding American democracy" on its website on December 14, 2018, saying corporations captured U.S. politicians with campaign donations and promises of future bribes so that politicians would make legislations on behalf of their businesses.
The public had pessimistic attitudes towards U.S. politics. A Pew Research Center survey on American democracy and the political system released on April 26 2018, showed 53 percent of the surveyed said the United States did not respect "the rights and freedoms of all people." The Newsweek reported on June 26, 2018 that a poll showed 55 percent of Americans said democracy in the United States was "weak" currently, and 68 percent said they believed democracy in the United States was "getting weaker."
III. Income Inequality Continued to Rise
Poverty rate in the United States remained high. Income inequality continued to rise. Almost half of American households lived under financial strain. Low-income populations lacked health insurance. The number of homeless people stayed high.
The United States had the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. The U.S. Census estimated that 13.4 percent of Americans, about 42 million, lived below the poverty line in 2017. More than 5 million Americans who work full-time jobs year-round earned less than the poverty line. According to a report by the Brookings Institution, the disabled generally had a harder time finding steady work and earning above-poverty wages. About 25.7 percent of the disabled lived in poverty (www.usatoday.com, October 10, 2018 and November 19, 2018).
In May 2018 Philip G. Alston, the United Nation's special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published a report saying the United States had the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. According to the report, 18.5 million Americans lived in extreme poverty. The country had the highest youth poverty rate in countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 2016, the top one percent of the richest population in the United States owned 38.6 percent of total wealth. In relation to both wealth and income the share of the common people had fallen in most of the past 25 years. Alston further pointed out that the U.S. government's series of economic stimulus measures in recent years only benefited the rich, not the common people. "The U.S. government's policies provide unprecedentedly high tax breaks to the very wealthy and the largest corporations and pay for these partly by reducing welfare benefits for the poor. The tax reform will worsen inequality."(www.washingtonpost.com, June 25, 2018)
Almost half of American households lived in financial difficulties. On July 17, 2018, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders wrote in an article published on the USA Today website, saying 43 percent of U.S. households lived paycheck to paycheck and can't afford to pay for their housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and their cell phone without going into debt. The Urban Institute's survey found that nearly 40 percent of non-elderly adults reported difficulty meeting basic needs such as food, health care, housing, and utilities (www.usatoday.com, July 17, 2018 and October 1, 2018).
Low-income populations lacked health insurance. In May 2018, Philip G. Alston, the United Nation's special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published a report saying almost a quarter of full-time workers, and three quarters of part-time workers, received no paid sick leave. About 44 per cent of adults either could not cover an emergency expense or would need to sell something or borrow money to do it (www.washingtonpost.com, June 25, 2018). Gallup's annual poll, conducted in November 2018, found 46 percent of U.S. adults worry about not having enough money to pay for their healthcare (news.gallup.com, December 10, 2018). According to a new Urban Institute analysis, Texas had 19 percent of uninsured residents under age 65, totaling 4.7 million (abcnews.go.com, December 17, 2018).
The number of homeless people stayed high. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than half a million Americans lacked permanent shelters. Many homeless individuals were in dire need of medical attention and suffered from mental illnesses (www.usatoday.com, October 1, 2018). According to an audit report issued by the State of California in April 2018, the state had the largest number of homeless population in the nation, reaching 134,278 in 2017, an increase of 16,136 people over 2016 (www.auditor.ca.gov). In Cincinnati of Ohio, homeless people set up camps near the heart of the city. But a local judge named Robert Ruehlman declared homeless camps a public nuisance and banned them in the affected part of downtown. He later expanded the ban to include most of the city and all of surrounding Hamilton County (www.usatoday.com, August 14, 2018).
Drug overdose deaths and suicides continued to rise. A report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said drug overdose deaths among U.S. residents exceeded 70,000 in 2017. The rate had increased on average by 16 percent per year since 2014. Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Since 1999, the suicide rate had climbed 33 percent. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans killed themselves (nytimes.com, August 15, 2018).
IV. Worsening Racial Discrimination
Systematic racial discrimination has long existed in the United States. Ethnic minorities faced restrictions in exercising their voting rights. The law enforcement and judicial departments made no progress in reducing racial discrimination. Hate crimes were common. Minorities were at an extremely disadvantageous position.
Systematic racial discrimination was criticized by the United Nations. According to the report of the ninety-third session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance prepared pursuant to a UN General Assembly resolution, the phenomena of promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred have long existed in American society. The United States failed to unequivocally reject and contain racist violent events and demonstrations. High-level politicians and public officials, including the President, propagated nationalist and populist remarks, and published racist and xenophobic statements on print and social media (UN documents A/73/18, A/73/312, A/73/305).
Minority voters were disenfranchised. According to a report of the American Civil Liberties Union on October 12, 2018, North Dakota's restrictive voter ID law required voters to bring to the polls an ID that displays a current residential street address. As many of Native Americans live on reservations in rural areas and don't have street addresses, the law disenfranchised thousands of Native Americans. Twenty-three states since 2010 have passed some type of voter suppression law, while 17 have voter suppression laws that target Native Americans and other indigenous people, according to an online report of the National Catholic Reporter. The Reuters website reported on November 28, 2018 that during the mid-term elections, due to an "exact match" policy adopted in Georgia, 70 percent of the voters whose registrations were pending before the election were black. African-Americans account for about one-third of the state's population. On August 11, 2018, the Economist commented on its website that in the south of the United States, some states adopted laws to impose rigid requirements on African-American voters. "They seem to push America back towards the early 20th century, when blacks were systematically prevented from voting."
African-Americans became innocent victims of police shooting because of their skin color. According to a BBC report on November 12, 2018, Jemel Roberson, a 26-year-old African-American security guard, was holding down a suspected armed attacker at a bar in suburban Chicago, but police shot and killed him upon arrival. A witness recounted that everybody was screaming out "he was a security guard," but police still did their job and saw a black man with a gun and opened fire on him.
On the Thanksgiving night of November 22, after a gunfire happened at an Alabama mall, Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., a 21-year-old black who was helping other shoppers to safety, was mistaken for the gunman and shot three times from behind by police. Witnesses said he posed no threat to anyone at that time. Fitzgerald's "senseless death is the latest egregious example of a black man killed because he was perceived to be a threat due to the color of his skin," the newspaper quoted Ben Crump, the lawyer for Fitzgerald's family, as saying. (www.usatoday.com, December 4, 2018).
The Starbucks incident highlighted common discrimination against African Americans. On April 12, 2018, two African Americans entered a Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia and asked to use the restroom. But they were refused by store employees, and wouldn't leave when asked by the employees to do so. Police came and arrested them on the spot. This discriminatory act sparked protests. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross at first defended that the police officers "didn't do anything wrong", but later apologized due to pressure. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said that the arrest caused many Philadelphians to witness and relive "the trauma of racial profiling" (www.usatoday.com, April 15, 2018; abcnews.go.com, April 19, 2018). Many say the Starbucks incident exposed discrimination that people of color and black people in particular face every day, said a report by the Guardian (www.theguardian.com, May 28, 2018).
Minorities suffered judicial discrimination. As of late 2017, in 15 high-profile cases involving deaths of black people, only one officer faces prison time, according to the website of The New York Times on June 7, 2018. According to the national statistics on the death penalty and race released by the U.S. Death Penalty Information Center on December 14, 2018, among the persons executed for interracial murders in the United States since 1976, the number of black defendants executed for the murder of white victims reached 290. In contrast, only 20 white defendants were executed for murdering black victims (deathpenaltyinfo.org, December 14, 2018). According to the Washington Post's analysis on July 29 of homicide arrest data, in the past decade, police arrested someone in 63 percent of the killings of white victims while they did so in just 47 percent of those with black victims.
Racial discrimination-related hate crimes reached a record high. Hate crimes rose in the United States by more than 17 percent in 2017, the biggest annual increase in reported hate crimes since 2001. Around 60 percent of the 7, 175 hate crimes were related to racial discrimination and nearly half of the victims were African Americans, according to a report of the Los Angeles Times on November 13, 2018.
James Harris Jackson, a white Army veteran, planned to murder several black men in the company of white women because of his hatred of interracial dating. As a "practice" for a larger racial terror attack, he cruelly killed a 66-year-old black with a short sword in March 2017, The New York Times reported on September 20, 2018.
Anti-Semitism Prevails. Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old white, stormed into the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a rifle and handguns, shouting anti-Semitic slogans. He opened fire on worshipers in a 20-minute attack, killing 11 people and injuring six others. The attack was believed to be the deadliest on the Jewish community in U.S. history (edition.cnn.com, November 27, 2018; www.usatoday.com, October 29, 2018). Anti-Semitic pamphlets were spread throughout Pittsburgh. Nazi-themed posters were found in various locations around the State University of New York. A 21-year-old man was arrested for allegedly plotting to kill worshipers in a Jewish synagogue in Toledo, a CNN report said on December 12. There were 938 hate crimes against Jewish people in 2017, a 37 percent increase in anti-Jewish crimes, according to an FBI report (www.latimes.com, November 13, 2018).
The economic condition of African Americans is worrisome. The Economic Policy Institute reported on its website on February 26, 2018 that the median white family had almost 10 times as much wealth as the median black family. It also pointed out that the black unemployment rate has been roughly twice the white unemployment rate for a long time and African Americans were 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites (www.epi.org, February 26, 2018). African Americans represent 13 percent of the general population, but more than 40 percent of the homeless population is African Americans, the National Alliance to End Homelessness reported (endhomelessness.org, June 6. 2018).
Racial discrimination causes health disparities. When looking at the 10 leading causes of death in the United States, including cancer, stroke and heart disease, mortality rates among black Americans were higher than among white Americans. Compelling evidence suggests both individual- and institutional-level discrimination causes this disparity, the Huffington Post reported on February 5, 2018. The infant mortality rate of black infants was 2.3 times higher than white infants. An African American born today on average, still expect to live about 3.5 fewer years than a white person born on the same day, according a report from the Economic Policy Institute on February 26, 2018.
Serious racial discrimination exists in the financial sector. Black applicants were rejected at more than double the rate of non-Hispanic white applicants on all types of loans, data with the federal Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection showed. Black and Hispanic applicants were charged interest rates more often at least 1.5 percentage points above the "average prime offer rate" for loans of a similar type, Los Angeles Times reported on May 27, 2018.
V．Children Face Worrisome Safety Problems
The high incidence of school shootings, widespread school violence and lack of effective government oversight of children abuse has posed a threat to American children both physically and mentally and their living environment is worrisome.
School shootings frequently occurred. According to a BBC report on December 12, 2018, the year of 2018 has had the highest number of incidents ever recorded, in figures going back to 1970, and has been the worst year for deaths and injuries. Data from the U.S. Center for Homeland Defense and Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency showed that there were 94 gun incidents in U.S. schools in 2018, with 163 casualties, compared with a previous high of 97 in 1986. On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, equipped with a gun and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire at a Florida high school, killing 17 people and injuring at least 14. Cruz had pulled the fire alarm and then started shooting with the semi-automatic weapon at students who came pouring out of the classrooms (www.usatoday.com, February 14, 2018). According to a report by Pew Research Center on April 18, 2018, 57 percent of teens surveyed said they were worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school, while 63 percent of parents of teenagers said they were at least somewhat worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their child's school.
The problem of school violence is prominent. Violent incidents in U.S. schools increased 113 percent during the past 2017-2018 school year. According to a survey based on responses from more than 160,000 secondary students in 27 states, nearly 40 percent of middle-schoolers said they'd been bullied while 27 percent of high-schoolers said the same (www.usatoday.com, August 14 and September 24, 2018). American School & University reported on December 10, 2018 that more than 600 schools in Florida failed to report crimes that took place on campus to the state each year.
Children suffer from serious threats of abuse. According to statistics from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 in 4 children in America experienced maltreatment at some point in their lives (www.usatoday.com, July 26, 2018). Texas Tribune reported on December 6, 2018, hundreds of children were abused and 88 died of abuse and neglect in Texas day care facilities in the last decade. According to a report by The Guardian on December 18, 2018, an education center in Canton, Massachusetts, routinely inflicted high-powered electric shocks as a form of punishment on students, with individuals being zapped with electric currents far more powerful than those discharged by stun guns. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a rare formal notice known as "precautionary measures" that calls for immediate cessation of the electric shocks.
Children fall victims to priest sexual abuse. According to a CBS report on August 15, 2018, more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania committed sexual abuse against a large number of children over a period of decades, with more than 1,000 victims, while senior church officials took steps to cover it up. A report from Attorney General in Illinois showed that 690 Catholic priests were suspected of sexual abuse against children in the state (www.chicagotribune.com, December 19, 2018). According to a report by Star-Telegram on December 9, 2018, more than one hundred clergies from fundamental Baptist churches spanning 40 U.S. states were accused of committing sexual crimes against children.
The U.S. government neglected the protection of children's rights. According to a report by Chicago Tribune on July 13, 2018, in some states, the adoption system lacks transparency and issues such as the living conditions of adopted children and reports of child abuse have been ignored for years. The lack of effective oversight by the federal and state governments has led to frequent incidents of abuse or murder of adopted children. On November 28, 2018, the Miami Herald published a lengthy investigative report on multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein's underage girl sex trafficking based on a review of court filings. Between 2001 and 2005, Epstein allegedly abducted and trafficked underage girls from other countries and forced them to provide sexual services to his bigwig friends, with more than 80 victims. Federal prosecutors forged a plea deal with Epstein to sentence him to 13 months in prison on only one count and end investigation into potential co-conspirators in the case. The report said some senior government official had helped broker the deal for such light conviction.
Children are suffering from poverty. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 13 million children — about one in six — in the United States live in families with inconsistent access to food. These children can experience hunger on a regular basis. According to figures released by U.S. Census Bureau, 20.2 percent of American children under 5-years-old live in poverty (www.usatoday.com, October 1 and October 10, 2018).
VI. Shocking Gender Discrimination
The U.S. women faced severe threat in terms of sexual harassment and sexual assault, with personal safety in lack of protection. They also face obvious discrimination of employment and in workplace.
High occurrence rate of sexual harassment and assault. As reported by National Public Radio on February 21, 2018, an online survey found that 81 percent of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime. It also found that 51 percent had been sexually touched without their permission, and 27 percent said they had survived sexual assault (www.npr.org, February 21, 2018). As reported by Des Moines Register on October 14, 2018, about two-dozen Iowa legislators and staff members were involved in the Anderson case of sexual harassment. Being afraid of losing job or retaliation, the victims had to remain silent for over 10 years. The state government paid a settlement of 1.75 million U.S. dollars. As reported by USA Today on September 26, sexual harassment and assault have become a systemic issue in Hollywood. According to an industry-wide survey, 94 percent of the surveyed women would have experienced some form of harassment or abuse during their career. As reported by Gallup on November 12, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that 18.3 percent of women were the victims of rape at some point in their lifetime. The report also found that the percentage of the U.S. women who say they worry about being a victim of sexual assault has edged up to 36 percent, the highest this figure has been since 2011 (news.gallup.com, November 12, 2018).
Women under violent offending. Research by the U.S. National Institute of Justice showed that over four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, and more than half of them have experienced sexual violence. As reported by Huffington Post on November 14, 2018, 5,712 cases of missing Native women nationwide were reported to the U.S. National Crime Information Center in 2016 alone. As reported by Los Angeles Times on October 8, 2018, between 2006 and 2014, more than 5,000 women were shot and killed by a current or former intimate partner.
Significant wage gap between men and women. According to date from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average gender pay gap in the United States is around 19.5 percent, and a woman earns only 80.5 percent of the wage a man earns (www.businessinsider.com, August 27, 2018). The gender wage gap was even worse than the statistics. In the long term, women made slightly less than half of men's incoming. Among full-time, year-round workers, women with associate's degrees were paid less than men with just a high school diploma, and women with master's degrees were paid less than men with bachelor's degrees. A gender-based wage gap continues to harm women and their families (www.huffingtonpost.com, November 28, 2018; www.nationalpartnership.org, April and September, 2018).
Prevalent discrimination in workplace. According to a report by San Francisco Chronicle on December 21, 2018, discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers remains widespread in the U.S. workplace. Half of women working in science, technology, engineering or math jobs have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. About 70 percent of women said that there were too few women in political and business leadership positions (www.pewsocialtrends.org, January 9 and September 20, 2018).
Upsurge of women's discontent sentiment about their social positions. The Gallup website reported on January 10, 2018, that 46 percent of women in the United States said they were very or somewhat dissatisfied with their position in society, up from 30 percent in 2008, when Gallup last asked the question. As reported by The New York Times on January 20, 2018, millions attended the Women's March 2018 to show intense protest against the government's policies.
VII. Continuous Tragedies for Immigrants
The U.S government used slanders and violence against immigrants. Inhumane immigration policies forcibly separated migrant children from their parents. Women and children seeking shelter and asylum were suffering from abuses and sexual assaults. Death incidents of children were appalling. All these practices of the United States drew strong condemnation from the United Nations and the international community.
Slander and violence against immigrants. The Atlantic website reported on December 12, 2018 that the U.S. government began in 2017 pursuing the deportation of many long-term immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries, alleging that these immigrants were "violent criminal aliens." The Washington Post reported on November 26, 2018 that the U.S. authorities fired tear gas on multiple occasions at the U.S. border with Mexico to stop immigrants from Central America, causing many injuries.
On November 28, 2018, UN experts including Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children and Chair of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, jointly issued letters to voice their concerns about the racist and xenophobic languages and practices used by U.S. authorities, which fly in the face of international human rights standards. The letters said that the official response in that country stigmatises migrants and refugees, equating them with crime and epidemics, which also fuels a climate of intolerance, racial hatred and xenophobia against those perceived as non-white, creating hostile emotional environments.
Immigration polices separating children from parents. The New York Times website reported on May 12, 2018 that the U.S. government introduced a new "zero tolerance" policy, calling for criminal prosecution of everyone who enters the country illegally, in April. Minor children must be taken from the parents who are in custody in the process. As a result, more than 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents. The Guardian website reported on June 16 that according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security figures, a total of 1,995 minors were forcibly separated from their families between 19 April and 31 May 2018 at the U.S. southern border. This policy had drawn waves of strong criticism and protests from the U.S. society and the international community. An article on The Guardian website on June 23 quoted Anne Longfield, the children's commissioner for England, as saying that separating children from their parents is cruel and deeply distressing for them. In some it will cause long-lasting emotional damage. Laura Janner-Klausner, a leading British rabbi, drew a parallel between the policy and historical trends that have led to genocide.
Women and children seeking asylum suffered from abuses and sexual assaults. The website of The Independent on May 23, 2018 said there has been a startling increase in the number of instances where US Border Patrol officers have abused children seeking shelter in the United States. It quoted a previous disclosure from the American Civil Liberties Union that detailed 116 incidents where officers were alleged to have physically, sexually, or psychologically abused children between the ages of five and 17. The Texas Tribune website reported on June 20, 2018 that children held at the Shiloh Treatment Center, a government contractor south of Houston that houses immigrant minors, were subdued with powerful psychiatric drugs. The children were forcibly injected with medications that made them dizzy, listless and afraid of people and caused some long-term side effects. According to a report on the American Immigration Council website on August 30, the Atlanta City Detention Center, used by the U.S. authorities to hold individuals in immigration proceedings, were found to have problems such as unsanitary environment and rampant use of lockdown and isolation (immigrationimpact.com, August 30, 2018).
The New York Times website reported on November 12, 2018 that Esteban Manzanares, a Border Patrol agent in Texas, driven three women, including two teenagers, who crossed border to seek shelter, to an isolated, wooded area 16 miles outside the border city. There he sexually assaulted one girl and viciously attacked two others and left them, finally, to bleed in the brush. The report said that over the past four years, at least 10 people in South Texas have been victims of murder, kidnapping or rape by Border Patrol agents. According to a report by the CNN on December 26, 2018, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala, died December 8 in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, fewer than 48 hours after CBP detained her. Another 8-year-old Guatemalan boy, Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, died late Christmas Eve in the agency's custody.
Strong condemnation of the U.S. immigration policies from UN institutions. A report of the UN Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 35/3, criticized the populism and the racist and xenophobic languages to describe immigrants used by the U.S. administration as well as practices to separate children from their parents. It said these practices had imperiled the immigrants' human rights, including their rights to life, dignity and liberty (UN document A/73/206). A report by The Guardian website on June 5, 2018 quoted Ravina Shamdasani, a UN human rights official, as saying that "the use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent [against illegal immigration] runs counter to human rights standards and principles. The US should immediately halt this practice." She noted that the United States was the only country in the world not to have ratified the UN convention on the rights of the child. She called on the United States to fully respect children's rights.
On June 22, 2018, a group of UN experts, including Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Chairperson of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, jointly issued a statement saying that forcibly separating thousands of migrant children from their parents and holding them in detention violated international human rights standards. It said detention of children is punitive, severely hampers their development, and in some cases may amount to torture. "Children are being used as a deterrent to irregular migration, which is unacceptable."
VIII. Unilateralism is Losing Ground
The United States shirked international responsibilities, carried out the unilateralist America First policies unscrupulously, repeatedly withdrew from international organizations, bullied the weak, and caused human rights disasters in its overseas military operations, and became a "trouble maker" that the international community widely condemned.
Withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council. After withdrawing from international treaties such as the Paris Climate Agreement and international organizations including the UNESCO, the United States brazenly announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council on June 19, 2018. Just a day earlier, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized the United States for forcibly separating children from their parents after they crossed the border into the U.S. According to a report released by The Atlantic on June 20, 2018, human rights expert said that one of Trump's most likely, and most insidious, arguments for the move was to prevent the United States from being called out on its own alleged human-rights abuses.
Reduction of humanitarian aid. The State Department announced on August 31 that the United States would no longer contribute to the United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees, and threatened to cancel the assistance programs to Palestine worth over 200 million U.S. dollars in the West Bank and Gaza, aggravating the already serious humanitarian situation in the area (www.washingtonpost.com, August 31, 2018; edition.cnn.com, August 31, 2018).
Refusal to close Guantanamo military prison. Despite years of strong condemnation and appeal from the international community, the United States decided to break its promise and keep the notorious Guantanamo military prison in Cuba open. Most of the prisoners were without trial (www.aljazeera.com, February 1, 2018). Los Angeles Times reported on its website on July 26, 2018 that a Pakistani, mistaken for an extremist, was imprisoned and tortured in Guantanamo for as long as 14 years without trial, resulting in serious physical and mental damage.
Civilian casualties as result of overseas military operations. According to a CNN report on April 14, 2018, the United States and its allies, without concrete evidence or UN Security Council authorization, launched a strike on Syria in the name of striking Syrian chemical weapon facilities. The Guardian reported on November 28 that at least 30 Afghan civilians, including women and 16 children, were killed in U.S. air strikes in the Afghan province of Helmand. The United Nations said the number of civilian casualties from air strikes in the first nine months of 2018 was already higher than in any entire year since at least 2009 (www.theguardian.com, November 28, 2018; www.latimes.com, November 30, 2018).
Associated Press reported on November 14, 2018 that the United States had been engaged in a drone war in Yemen for 16 years, causing a large number of civilian casualties. At least 30 civilians were killed in a drone strike in 2018. Statistics showed that the United States had launched 176 drone strikes in 2017 and 2018, leading to 205 deaths. CNN reported on December 16, 2018 that a war-torn Yemen was in the midst of mass famine and cholera outbreak, with more than 22 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and protection. An estimated 85,000 children under the age of 5 in Yemen may have died from starvation and disease. Chris Murphy, a U.S. senator, said "US is enabling war that has made Yemen a hell on earth for civilians." "There is a US imprint on each of these civilian deaths."