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Trump's media attacks endanger journalists worldwide, UN human rights official says

The United Nations human rights commissioner said President Donald Trump's attacks on the media create a dangerous environment for journalists. (Rick Loomis/Getty Images)

The outgoing United Nations human rights commissioner believes President Donald Trump's continued attacks on the media could eventually lead to violence, The Guardian reported.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who has decided not to take on a second term as human rights commissioner, said Trump's rhetoric reminds him of the times leading up to the two world wars, and also emboldens authoritarian leaders worldwide to stamp out the independent press.

"We begin 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," Zeid said. "And, in that context, it's getting very close to incitement of violence."

How is Trump enabling oppression?

Zeid said he's seen other leaders following Trump's example of attacking the media, often with much more severe results than those seen in the United States, where the battle is largely verbal.

"The U.S. creates a demonstration effect, which then is picked up by other countries where the leadership tends to be more authoritarian [in] character or aspires to be authoritarian," Zeid said, referencing Cambodian leader Hun Sen's closing down of media organizations.

Bad relationship

The relationship between the United States and the UN Human Rights Council was already beyond repair, with the U.S. leaving the council in June for being a "self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights."

Zeid said he has been discouraged by the U.S.'s stance on human rights under the Trump administration, saying this administration differs sharply from previous ones.

"The Trump administration seems to have separated itself from previous administrations in its upholding of human rights globally," Zeid told The Guardian, adding that the U.S.'s refusal to fully commit to the council was "illustrative of the lack of any deep commitment to the human rights."

(H/T New York Post)

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