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UN experts to US: “Release migrant children from detention and stop using them to deter irregular migration” GENEVA (22 June 2018)

UN experts to US: “Release migrant children from detention and stop using them to deter irregular migration” GENEVA (22 June 2018)
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UN experts to US: “Release migrant children from detention and stop using them to deter irregular migration”

https://www.ohchr.org/SP/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23245&LangID=E

GENEVA (22 June 2018) — The exec­u­tive order signed by the US Pres­i­dent on 20 June 2018 fails to address the sit­u­a­tion of thou­sands of migrant chil­dren forcibly sep­a­rat­ed from their par­ents and held in deten­tion at the bor­der, UN experts* said. In addi­tion, it may lead to indef­i­nite deten­tion of entire fam­i­lies in vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al human rights stan­dards, they said.

“This exec­u­tive order does not address the sit­u­a­tion of those chil­dren who have already been pulled away from their par­ents. We call on the Gov­ern­ment of the US to release these chil­dren from immi­gra­tion deten­tion and to reunite them with their fam­i­lies based on the best inter­ests of the child, and the rights of the child to lib­er­ty and fam­i­ly uni­ty,” the experts said.

“Deten­tion of chil­dren is puni­tive, severe­ly ham­pers their devel­op­ment, and in some cas­es may amount to tor­ture,” the experts said. “Chil­dren are being used as a deter­rent to irreg­u­lar migra­tion, which is unacceptable.”

The UN experts have already expressed to the US Gov­ern­ment their grave con­cerns over the impact of the zero-tol­er­ance pol­i­cy signed by the Attor­ney Gen­er­al on 6 April 2018. As a result of the new pol­i­cy, par­ents trav­el­ling with their chil­dren, includ­ing asy­lum-seek­ing fam­i­lies, were auto­mat­i­cal­ly sep­a­rat­ed and sub­ject­ed to crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion as a puni­tive deter­rent from migrat­ing to the Unit­ed States.

“The sep­a­ra­tions have been con­duct­ed with­out notice, infor­ma­tion, or the oppor­tu­ni­ty to chal­lenge them. The par­ents and chil­dren have been unable to com­mu­ni­cate with each oth­er. The par­ents have had no infor­ma­tion about the where­abouts of their chil­dren, which is a cause of great dis­tress. More­over, we are deeply con­cerned at the long-term impact and trau­ma, includ­ing irrepara­ble harm that these forcible sep­a­ra­tions will have on the children.”

The UN experts not­ed that some of them are chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties and need spe­cial­ized sup­port. Some have been tak­en from their breast­feed­ing mothers.

The lack of prop­er reg­is­tra­tion makes the track­ing and ulti­mate reuni­fi­ca­tion of these chil­dren par­tic­u­lar­ly chal­leng­ing. There are also legit­i­mate fears that some chil­dren may nev­er be reunit­ed with their par­ents as they are sent to dif­fer­ent parts of the Unit­ed States while their par­ents may have been deported.

Most of the migrants detained are asy­lum seek­ers from Guatemala, El Sal­vador and Hon­duras, who have fled their coun­tries because of inse­cu­ri­ty, vio­lence and vio­la­tions of their human rights. The vast major­i­ty of these migrants are indige­nous peo­ples or belong to eth­nic or racial groups that are cat­e­go­rized as non-white in the Unit­ed States. Thus, the exec­u­tive order’s effect on chil­dren and their fam­i­lies is dev­as­ta­tion reserved large­ly for indige­nous and oth­er non-white migrants.

“The best inter­ests of the child should be the para­mount con­sid­er­a­tion, includ­ing in the con­text of migra­tion man­age­ment, and chil­dren should nev­er be detained for rea­sons relat­ed to their own or their par­ents’ migra­tion sta­tus,” the experts said.

The experts also expressed con­cern about the lack of due process guar­an­tees for asy­lum seek­ers and oth­er vul­ner­a­ble migrants, such as vic­tims or poten­tial vic­tims of traf­fick­ing, who seek pro­tec­tion in the US, in pos­si­ble vio­la­tion of the prin­ci­ple of non-refoule­ment, lack­ing prop­er indi­vid­ual assess­ment, and at risk of depor­ta­tions that result in fur­ther fam­i­ly separation.

“Migrant chil­dren need to be treat­ed first and fore­most as chil­dren. While fam­i­ly uni­ty needs to be pre­served at all costs, it can­not be done at the expense of detain­ing entire fam­i­lies with chil­dren. Fam­i­ly-based alter­na­tives to depri­va­tion of lib­er­ty must be adopt­ed urgent­ly,” the experts said.

ENDS

(*) UN experts: Felipe González Morales, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on the human rights of migrants; Vic­to­ria Tauli-Cor­puz, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on the rights of indige­nous peo­ples; Catali­na Devan­das, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on the rights of per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties; Maud de Boer-Buquic­chioSpe­cial Rap­por­teur on the sale and sex­u­al exploita­tion of chil­dren; Nils Melz­erSpe­cial Rap­por­teur on tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ment; Dainius Pῡras, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on the right to health; Maria Grazia Giammari­naro, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on traf­fick­ing in per­sons, espe­cial­ly women and chil­dren; Seong-Phil Hong, Chair-Rap­por­teur of the Work­ing Group on Arbi­trary Deten­tion; Ivana Radačić , Chair­per­son of the Work­ing Group on the issue of dis­crim­i­na­tion against women in law and in prac­tice; Dubrav­ka Šimonović, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on vio­lence against women; and E. Ten­dayi Achi­ume, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on con­tem­po­rary forms of racism, racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, xeno­pho­bia and relat­ed intol­er­ance

Spe­cial Rap­por­teurs are part of what is known as the Spe­cial Pro­ce­dures of the Human Rights Coun­cil. Spe­cial Pro­ce­dures, the largest body of inde­pen­dent experts in the UN Human Rights sys­tem, is the gen­er­al name of the Council’s inde­pen­dent fact-find­ing and mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nisms that address either spe­cif­ic coun­try sit­u­a­tions or the­mat­ic issues in all parts of the world. Spe­cial Pro­ce­dures’ experts work on a vol­un­tary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are inde­pen­dent from any gov­ern­ment or orga­ni­za­tion and serve in their indi­vid­ual capacity. 

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion and media requests, please con­tact Nekane Lavín (+41 22 917 94 02 / lavin@ohchr.org
UN Human Rights, coun­try page: Unit­ed States of America

For media inquiries relat­ed to oth­er UN inde­pen­dent experts please contact
Jere­my Lau­rence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniver­sary of the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights, adopt­ed by the UN on 10 Decem­ber 1948. The Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion – trans­lat­ed into a world record 500 lan­guages – is root­ed in the prin­ci­ple that “all human beings are born free and equal in dig­ni­ty and rights.” It remains rel­e­vant to every­one, every day. In hon­our of the 70th anniver­sary of this extra­or­di­nar­i­ly influ­en­tial doc­u­ment, and to pre­vent its vital prin­ci­ples from being erod­ed, we are urg­ing peo­ple every­where to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

 

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