Amnesty warns of ‘human rights crisis’ in US due to Trump’s delayed transition

The US recorded a quarter of a million deaths from Covid-19 on Wednesday

Nurse Kate Knepprath dons PPE as she prepares to enter the room of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient being treated at UW Health University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S. November 18, 2020.  REUTERS/Daniel Acker
Powered by automated translation

In an unprecedented move by a human rights organization in relation to a US Presidential election, Amnesty International issued a warning about the stagnated political transition in the country and the dire impact it is having on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two weeks after the US election, President Donald Trump has not conceded his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, a reality that Amnesty now sees as having an effect on the spread of the coronavirus, and has described it as a “human rights crisis.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a human rights crisis on an unprecedented scale. The US government’s response to the pandemic has laid bare systemic disparities that have long undermined our human rights, including those to life and health,” said Bob Goodfellow, Amnesty International USA’s interim executive director.

“President Trump’s rejection of the results of the 2020 election and refusal to co-operate with President-elect Biden’s team will effectively cost even more lives and worsen this human rights crisis.”

Amnesty, which has historically assigned most of its election warnings to non-democratic societies across the world, is calling on the Trump administration to respect its human rights obligations. “We call on President Trump and his administration to fulfil their human rights obligations under international law and co-operate with President-elect Biden to protect the rights to health and to life,” the statement read.

On Wednesday, the Covid-19 death toll in the United States hit the 250,000 mark according to NBC, as cases spiked across the country, especially in the Midwestern states.

In the past month, NBC recorded a 42 per cent increase in mortality in the US, with average daily deaths rising from 821 to 1,167.

Mr Biden sharpened his attack against Mr Trump on Tuesday, saying that stalling the transition would sabotage the coronavirus response and cause more deaths.

“If we have to wait until January 20 [inauguration day] to start that planning, it puts us behind…More people may die if we don’t co-ordinate,” Mr Biden said at a press event held at his transition headquarters in Delaware. The delay could impact co-ordination with governors across the US, tapping into federal resources and, more critically, could affect the distribution of a vaccine when it becomes available.

On Twitter, Mr Trump continues to claim that he won the election and has asked for credit for the vaccine. But his most senior health adviser Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has publicly expressed his concerns about the process.

"Obviously, it's something that we're concerned about,” Mr Fauci said this week on NBC when asked about the delay in the transition. “As you know, I've served in six administrations, so I've seen a number of transitions, and I know that transitions are very important to get a smooth, as I use the metaphor, essentially passing a baton without stopping running,” he said.