The United Nations High Commissioner for human Rights, Michele Bachelet, has condemned the two mass shootings that claimed the lives of at least 31 people in the U.S. this week. Bachelet endorsed strong gun control measures to preempt such attacks.
The United Nations human rights office warns hate crimes appear to be on the rise in the United States, noting an increase in violent attacks against synagogues, mosques, churches and LGBT people.
The U.N. says these attacks in one way or another are rooted in racism, xenophobia, intolerance, discrimination and white supremacy. It says people in positions of authority have to be careful about what they say because words matter.
The spokesman for the U.N. high commissioner, Rupert Colville, says authorities are responsible for ensuring their actions do not promote negative stereotypes that lead to violent outbursts, as happened in the U.S. states of Texas and Ohio.
“We are concerned that these types of messages not only stigmatize and dehumanize minorities, migrants, refugees, women, LGBT and the so-called other. But they also leave targeted persons and communities vulnerable to the risks of reprisals and attacks and that applies to any authority, anywhere,” Colville said.
Three years ago, in the wake of the mass killing of 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the previous High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged Washington to ban assault weapons and adopt other arms control measures to preempt further killings.
Colville says Bachelet, the current high commissioner, fully endorses her predecessor’s statement.
“He called specifically on the United States to live up to its obligations to protect its citizens from the–and I quote–“horrifyingly commonplace but preventable violent acts that are the direct result of insufficient gun control,” he said.
Colville told VOA it is too easy to attribute gun violence to mental illness. He said mental illness may be a factor in some cases, but not all. He said there are many reasons why people resort to violence, such as blind hatred for a particular group or criminality.
If assault rifles are available, the U.N. spokesman says, there is a risk that people will use them.