Amnesty International said on Wednesday hateful rhetoric by politicians has encouraged a rise in discrimination and hate crimes in Europe and the United Sates.
“2016 was a year marked globally by hateful rhetoric and fear driven politics,” said Claire Mallinson, National Director at Amnesty International Australia.
In its annual human rights report released on Wednesday, Amnesty said, “Many governments and politicians shamelessly blamed the world’s most vulnerable people – including refugees, minorities and migrants – for economic hardships, and in doing so encouraged a rise in discrimination and hate crimes, particularly in Europe and the USA.”
World - a 'darker, unstable place'
It said US President Donald Trump's "poisonous" rhetoric on his way to winning the White House led a global trend towards increasingly divisive politics in 2016.
"Donald Trump's poisonous campaign rhetoric exemplifies a global trend towards angrier and more divisive politics," Amnesty said in a statement issued in Paris.
The world, it said, had become a "darker ... unstable place", with a rise in hate speech targeting refugees across Europe and the US.
"The early indications from Trump suggest a foreign policy that will significantly undermine multilateral cooperation and usher in a new era of greater instability and mutual suspicion," it added.
Amnesty said populist movements and messages had also become more common in Europe, notably in Poland and Hungary.
The result was a pervasive weakening of the rule of law and an erosion in the protection of human rights, particularly for refugees and terrorism suspects, but ultimately for everyone.
Amnesty chief Salil Shetty, while presenting the 2016 report in Paris, said, "One of the most dangerous things that happened in 2016 was to increasingly start equating refugees with terrorists."
"We have reached a point where there is no longer any red line. Almost no action has become too appalling or indefensible," Shetty said.
In this new reality it's easy to imagine a dystopian future where unrestrained brutality becomes a new normal.
He said that last year the world "ceased to be shocked by the deliberate bombing of hospitals and schools in conflict zones."
Click here to read the full report.