UN human rights chief: Trump’s attacks on press ‘close to incitement of violence’

Exclusive: Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who steps down this month, says US president’s rhetoric echoes that of the worst eras of the 20th century

Julian Borger in New York | The Guardian | August 13, 2018

 

Donald Trump’s anti-press rhetoric is “very close to incitement to violence” that would lead to journalists censoring themselves or being attacked, the outgoing UN human rights commissioner has said.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian prince and diplomat, is stepping down this month as UN high commissioner for human rights after deciding not to stand for a second four-year term, in the face of a waning commitment among world powers to fighting abuses.

Zeid said the Trump administration’s lack of concern about human rights marked a distinct break with previous administrations, and that Trump’s own rhetoric aimed at minorities and at the press was redolent of two of the worst eras of the 20th century, the run-up to the two world wars.

In an interview with the Guardian, he singled out the US president’s repeated designation of the press as “the enemy of the people”.

“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,” Zeid said. “And in that context, it’s getting very close to incitement to violence.”