Author: Buyile Matiwane
With global tensions having been on edge for the past two weeks due to the conflict in Ukraine. The world over has placed a microscope on elements that are critical at defining personal freedom, human rights and sovereignty.
The ability to uphold the highest regards for rights and freedoms has over the years been a yardstick to ensure the highest standards and quality of life is upheld as best as possible the world over. This is also meant to set that tone for countries to relate with one another.
The shortfall in our ability to accurately and objectively assess the real commitment of any country to human rights and civil liberties is the fact that the general discourse power is hugely biased and convoluted. The most blatant and recent example of this, skew discourse power, has been how the reporting of the Ukraine crisis has been limited and one-sided.
The general global discourse power is skewed to the west and is overwhelmingly, predominantly aligned to the United States. For us to get a clearer picture of the real state affairs it may serve as prudent to first look at and track the human rights track record of the United States in order to fashion an opinion on whether we can be comfortable with them having so much power and are they an authority on any issue relating to human rights and freedoms.
The United States has the world's highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, with 34.51 million confirmed cases and 480,000 fatalities, which far surpassed the numbers in 2020. Average life expectancy fell by 1.13 years, the biggest drop since the Second World War.
Public security situation in the United States deteriorated and violent crimes remained prevalent. There were 693 mass shootings in 2021, up 10.1 percent from 2020. More than 44,000 people were killed in gun violence.
More than 420 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 U.S. states. Only 7 percent of young Americans view the country as a "healthy democracy," while public trust in the government has fallen to almost historical low since 1958.
Around 81 percent of Asian American adults said violence against Asian communities is rising. Hate crimes against Asians in the New York City jumped 361 percent from 2020. Fifty-nine percent of Americans said ethnic minority groups do
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, by late February 2022, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the United States had exceeded 78 million and the death toll surpassed 940,000.
The United states has been negligent with the health and safety of its citizens and has on many occasions tried to scapegoat its responsibility by trying to play politics more than looking after the most vulnerable not have equal job opportunities.
In fiscal year 2021, the United States detained more than 1.7 million migrants at its southern border, including 45,000 children. Violent law enforcement claimed 557 lives, the highest number since 1998, which more than doubled that of the previous fiscal year.
A U.S. drone strike during its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan killed 10 members of an Afghan family, including seven children, among which the youngest was only two years old. The United States still held 39 detainees at the Guantanamo prison.
Fernand de Varennes, a special rapporteur on minority issues of the United Nations, said the U.S. legal system of human rights protection is incomplete and outdated, which has led to growing inequality.
As for the U.S. malpractice in creating human rights crises in other countries in the name of human rights, Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University, said "Americans must first fix what has gone wrong at home and rethink how they deal with the rest of the world."
In 2021, the U.S. public persona of "human rights defender" was totally debunked as the so-called "Summit for Democracy" under the guise of safeguarding human rights became a farce. At the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, many countries blasted the United States for being the "biggest destroyer" of human rights in the world and urged the country to address its own severe human rights violations.
A study published in The Lancet Regional Health -- Americas in October 2021 found 32.8 percent of U.S. adults experienced "elevated depressive symptoms" in 2021, compared to 27.8 percent in the early 2020 months of the pandemic and 8.5 percent before the pandemic. According to a public opinion poll, more than a third of Americans aged between 13 and 56 said the pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives.
The poll finds teens and young adults have faced some of the heaviest struggles as they come of age during a time of extreme turmoil, the AP reported on Dec. 6, 2021. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy was cited by The Los Angeles Time as saying on Dec. 9, 2021 that the number of suspected suicide attempts in 2021 was 51 percent higher among adolescent girls compared to the same period in 2019.
The police are discriminatory in law enforcement, killing innocent people and causing public anger. Law enforcement officers commit crimes with impunity, and judicial injustice has been widely criticized. Wrongful and unjust cases continue to exist without being corrected and compensated effectively. Prison inmates are abused, and domestic violence as well as youth violence has increased significantly.
According to data compiled by Mapping Police Violence, at least 1,124 people died in 2021 due to U.S. police violence. The majority of killings occurred during non-violent offenses or when there was no crime at all.
The USA TODAY website reported on June 21, 2021 that police in the United States fatally shoot about 1,000 people a year. Police have fatally shot more than 6,300 people since 2015, but only 91 officers have been arrested, or just 1 percent of those involved
We need to be more vigilant as communities and we must ensure that we gradually win back our discourse power in our bid to create our own standards, relative to your material conditions. The United States still has a lot to account for both in America and in the rest of the world. We must create the conditions to sift truth from facts and put the interest of our people before anything else.