Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016
State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
I. Serious Infringement on Right to Life, Personal Security
II. Political Rights Undermined
III. Grim Living Conditions of Low- and Middle-income Americans
IV. Racial Discrimination Worsened
V. Women, Children, Elders’ Rights Lack Proper Protection
VI. Gross Violations of Human Rights in Other Countries
On March 3 local time, the State Department of the United States released its country reports on human rights practices, posing once again as “the judge of human rights”. Wielding “the baton of human rights,” it pointed fingers and cast blame on the human rights situation in many countries while paying no attention to its own terrible human rights problems. People cannot help asking about the actual human rights situation of the United States in 2016. Concrete facts show that the United States saw continued deterioration in some key aspects of its existent human rights issues last year. With the gunshots lingering in people’s ears behind the Statue of Liberty, worsening racial discrimination and the election farce dominated by money politics, the self-proclaimed human rights defender has exposed its human rights “myth” with its own deeds.
– The frequent occurrence of gun-related crimes led to heavy casualties and the incarceration rate remained high. There were a total of 58,125 gun violence incidents, including 385 mass shootings, in the United States in 2016, leaving 15,039 killed and 30,589 injured (www.gunviolencearchive.org, December 31, 2016). The United States had the second highest prisoner rate, with 693 prisoners per 100,000 of the national population (www.statista.com, April 2016). There had been 70 million Americans incarcerated – that’s almost one in three adults - with some form of criminal record (harvardlawreview.org, January 5, 2017).
– Livelihood of middle- and low-income groups was worrisome amid widening income gap. In 2016, the proportion of adult Americans who had a full-time job hit a record low since 1983. Over the last three decades, nearly 70 percent of income ended up in the pockets of the wealthiest 10 percent. The population of U.S. middle-class registered a turning point toward contraction. Besides, one out of seven Americans remained in poverty, with life of 45 million people in strained circumstances. The average life expectancy fell from 78.9 years to 78.8 years as the United States posted a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time in over 20 years.
– Racism continued to exist and racial relations worsened. In 2016, the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent reported to the United Nations Human Rights Council that racial problems were severe in the United States. The colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remained a serious challenge. Police killings were reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching. The United States was undergoing a “human rights crisis” (www.un.org, August 18, 2016).
– There was no improvement to the protection of rights of women, children and elders, and the vulnerable groups’ rights were seriously violated. Women were paid much less compared to their male colleagues. Women with city government jobs in New York made 18 percent less than men (www.nydailynews.com, April 11, 2016). Women comprised about 60 percent of California workers earning minimum wage or less (www.sandiegouniontribune.com, April 10, 2016). Sexual harassments and assaults took place frequently. Roughly one in four women said they have been harassed on the job (www.usatoday.com, July 7, 2016). A total of 20 percent of young women who attended college during a four-year span said they had been sexually assaulted (www.washingtonpost.com, March 5, 2016). Poverty rate among children remained high and an estimated 6.8 million people aged 10 to 17 are food insecure (www.urban.org, September 11, 2016). Cases of elder abuse happened from time to time and about 5 million older adults were subject to abuse each year (www.csmonitor.com, June 15, 2016).
– The United States repeatedly trampled on human rights in other countries and willfully slaughtered innocent victims. From August 8, 2014 to December 19, 2016, the United States launched 7,258 air strikes in Iraq and 5,828 in Syria, causing 733 incidents with an estimated number of civilian deaths between 4,568 and 6,127 (airwars.org, December 19, 2016). Since 2009, the upper limit of the civilian death toll from U.S. drones stood at more than 800 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. (www.theguardian.com, July 1, 2016) The issue of illegal detention and torturing prisoners of other countries remained unsolved.
– The United States refused to approve core international conventions on human rights and did not accept UN draft resolutions related to human rights. It still has not ratified core international human rights conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At the 71st General Assembly of the UN, the United States voted against draft resolutions related to human rights including “The right to development,” “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures,” “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order,” and “Declaration on the right to peace” (www.un.org, December 19, 2016).