Rights group: Rise of Trump, far-right leaders puts 'human rights system at risk'

Story highlights

  • "His campaign floated proposals that would harm millions of people," the group said
  • Trump's election "capped a campaign marked by misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist rhetoric," the group said

Washington (CNN)President-elect Donald Trump's victory, as well as the emergence of far-right populist parties in Europe, "have put the postwar human rights system at risk," according to Human Rights Watch.

The group of leading human rights proponents cited the President-elect's campaign rhetoric, as well as specific platforms on which he campaigned.
    "His campaign floated proposals that would harm millions of people, including plans to engage in massive deportations of immigrants, to curtail women's rights and media freedoms, and to use torture," reads a statement from the group released Thursday.
    The statement adds: "Unless Trump repudiates these proposals, his administration risks committing massive rights violations in the US and shirking a longstanding, bipartisan belief, however imperfectly applied, in a rights-based foreign policy agenda."
    A message left with Trump's transition team was not immediately returned Saturday.
    The report said Trump's election "capped a campaign marked by misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist rhetoric and Trump's embrace of policies that would cause tremendous harm to vulnerable communities, contravene the United States' core human rights obligations, or both. Trump's campaign proposals included deporting millions of unauthorized immigrants, changing US law to allow torture of terrorism suspects and 'load[ing] up' the Guantanamo Bay detention facility."
    On torture, it's been widely speculated whether the President-elect -- who once said the US should go "tougher than waterboarding" -- would carry out such policies. In 2014, President Barack Obama said the US "tortured some folks" and condemned policies carried out under his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose administration authorized waterboarding, among other measures.
    In November, Trump said his pick for secretary of defense, James Mattis, "surprised" him when he said he did not find waterboarding useful.
    "I'm not saying it changed my mind. Look, we have people that are chopping off heads and drowning people in steel cages and we're not allowed to waterboard. But I'll tell you what, I was impressed by that answer," Trump told The New York Times.
    In confirmation hearings this week, Trump's choices for CIA director and secretary of Department of Homeland Security -- Mike Pompeo and John Kelly, respectively -- both broke with Trump over the use of torture, with Pompeo flatly saying he wouldn't follow such an order if given by Trump.
    Also this week, former CIA Director David Petraeus told CNN's Christiane Amanpour he believes Trump has given up the notion that torture will be reintroduced under his administration.
    Human Rights Watch's report also cites Trump's proposal to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records quickly after taking office. The group warned that "any push to rapidly deport millions of undocumented immigrants would almost certainly exacerbate abusive conditions of detention in a sprawling system with poor oversight, and further undermine already weak due process protections."
    The organization attributes Trump's political success to a rising authoritarian populist movement happening around the globe.
    "The rise of populism poses a profound threat to human rights," the group's executive director, Kenneth Roth, said in statement. "Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism. 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."