On Monday, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said President Trump is “close” to inciting real violence against journalists whom he constantly refers to as “the enemy of the people.”
Zeid, who is a Jordanian prince and a diplomat, said:
We began to see a campaign against the media … that could have potentially, and still can, set in motion a chain of events which could quite easily lead to harm being inflicted on journalists just going about their work and potentially some self-censorship. And in that context, it’s getting very close to incitement to violence.
Zeid is stepping down from his position of UN human rights chief after deciding not to pursue a second four-year term. He took this as an opportunity to share his opinions on Trump’s overall rhetoric. Not only did he criticize Trump’s anti-press agenda, but also his long history of targeting minorities:
When language is used in a way that focuses on groups of people who have traditionally suffered a great deal from bigotry and prejudice and chauvinism, it harked back to a period not too long ago in the 20th century when feelings were stoked, directed at a vulnerable group for the sake of political gain.
Zeid started his tenure as the UN human rights chief during the Obama administration. He reported that once Trump took office, his contacts at the U.S. state department diminished. He went on to criticize the Trump administrations’ history with human rights, saying, “The Trump administration seems to have separated itself from previous administrations in its upholding of human rights globally.” He also denounced Trump’s refusal to appoint a human rights ambassador to the Human Rights Council in Geneva before pulling out of the Council altogether. He said these actions were “illustrative of the lack of any deep commitment to the human rights.”
During Zeid’s term as UN human rights chief, human rights have accounted for only three percent of overall spending. The UN Security Council has also failed to stop mass killings in Syria and Yemen while Zeid held the seat. His successor, Michele Bachelet from Chile, has been both a prisoner and president in her country. Zeid’s advice to her included staying courageous and following in his footsteps by not running for a second term. He said, “I would be very suspicious of any commissioner seeking a second term because I’d wonder what deals are being struck and if they’d been struck they’ve been struck on the back of victims.”
Zeids comments come a few weeks after The New York Times’ publisher warned Trump that his attacks on the press could lead to violence against journalists. Meanwhile, over the weekend, Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric continued, with no end in sight: