State Dept halts cooperation with UN probes into potential US human rights violations: report

The Trump administration has reportedly stopped cooperating with the United Nations to investigate alleged violations of human rights happening domestically. 

The State Department has quietly stopped responding to official complaints from U.N. special rapporteurs, a group of independent experts who investigate human rights, The Guardian reported on Friday.

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There are reportedly at least 13 requests that have been unanswered and the rapporteurs have not received a response to their inquiries since May 7, 2018.

The requests have included potential probes into Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, which caused international uproar before it was reversed.

Felipe González Morales, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said he has approached the Trump administration twice about setting up a formal visit.

Morales wishes to investigate the immigration crisis and sent requests in March and July, which have been unanswered.

“In the absence of an official visit, we cannot publish a country report to be presented to the U.N. human rights council,” he told The Guardian.

Other inquires from the U.N. group regarded death threats to a Seattle transgender activist and allegations of anti-gay bias in the death sentence of a South Dakota prisoner.

Leilani Farha, the U.N. expert on adequate housing, told the outlet that she made five official complaints to the Obama administration since her appointment in 2014.

Each one of those complaints received “timely, thoughtful and constructive responses, even if we continued to disagree."

“This suggests the U.S. has abandoned even the most rudimentary forms of human rights accountability, and a whittling away of access to justice for those in the U.S. whose human rights may have been violated,” Farha said. “It also demonstrates a rather inappropriate arrogance, at a time when human rights in the U.S. are particularly fragile.”

The State Department declined to comment to The Guardian about why it was no longer responding to requests from U.N. experts.

A spokesperson said the U.S. remained “deeply committed to the promotion and defense of human rights around the globe” and expressed support for U.N. special rapporteurs investigating other countries.

The U.S. supports investigations “that have proven effective in illuminating the most grave human rights environments, including in Iran and [North Korea]”, the spokesperson told the outlet.

Trump has also not invited U.N. officials to monitor alleged human rights abuses inside the U.S., The Guardian noted.

Two U.N. experts —  the special rapporteurs on extreme poverty and privacy — have visited the U.S. since Trump took office, but they were invited by his predecessor, former President Obama.

Obama hosted 16 U.N. special rapporteur visits during his time in office.

Phillip Alston, the rapporteur on poverty, tore into Trump’s policies after his visit to the poorest communities in America.

He wrote a final report which accused the president of driving the U.S. down a path of rewarding the rich while punishing the poor. 

The report said American democracy "is being steadily undermined" and provided several suggestions for how to alleviate poverty in the U.S. The recommendations said American citizens must realize taxes "are in their interest" and that the U.S. "must recognize a right to health care."

“This is a systematic attack on America’s welfare program that is undermining the social safety net for those who can’t cope on their own. Once you start removing any sense of government commitment, you quickly move into cruelty,” Alston told The Guardian in June. 

Then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyTrump UN pick donated to GOP members on Senate Foreign Relations panel Pentagon sends B-52 bombers to Europe for exercises amid tensions with Russia Overnight Health Care: Trump officials sued over Medicaid work requirements in New Hampshire | Analysis contradicts HHS claims on Arkansas Medicaid changes | Azar signals HHS won't back down on e-cigs MORE blasted Alston’s report and said it was “patently ridiculous” for the U.N. to examine poverty in America.

“The Special Rapporteur wasted the UN’s time and resources, deflecting attention from the world’s worst human rights abusers and focusing instead on the wealthiest and freest country in the world,” she wrote in a letter to Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHere's why Biden, Bernie and Beto are peaking Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote Overnight Energy: Green New Deal vote set to test Dem unity | Renewables on track to phase out coal, study finds | EPA chief reportedly recuses himself from mine review MORE (I-Vt.).

Trump shocked the international community in June when he pulled the U.S. out of the Human Rights Council.

Haley called the council a "protector of human rights abusers and cesspool of political bias" and accused the body of "politicizing and scapegoating countries with positive human rights records."