UN rights chief ‘appalled’ by US border detention conditions, says holding migrant children may violate international law

UNHCR/V. Tan Photo: UNHCR/V. Tan

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Conditions in which migrants and refugees are being held in the United States are appalling, said the UN human rights chief on Monday, underscoring that children should never be held in immigration detention, or separated from their families.

“As a pediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of State, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions”, said High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

She stated that according to several UN human rights bodies, detaining migrant children may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that is prohibited under international law.

Spelling out that immigration detention is never in the best interests of a child, the OHCHR chief explained that “even for short periods under good conditions” it “can have a serious impact on their health and development”. “Consider the damage being done every day by allowing this alarming situation to continue”, she said.

‘Measure of last resort’

Noting the disturbing report by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General on the conditions in migrant centres along the southern border, Ms. Bachelet urged the authorities to find non-custodial alternatives for migrant and refugee children and adults.

“Any deprivation of liberty of adult migrants and refugees should be a measure of last resort”, she maintained.

If migrants or refugees are detained, the High Commissioner emphasized that it should be for the shortest period – with due process safeguards and under conditions that fully meet all relevant international human rights standards.

“States do have the sovereign prerogative to decide on the conditions of entry and stay of foreign nationals”, she acknowledged, adding, “but clearly, border management measures must comply with the State’s human rights obligations and should not be based on narrow policies aimed only at detecting, detaining and expeditiously deporting irregular migrants”.

The human right chief elaborated that “in most of these cases, the migrants and refugees have embarked on perilous journeys with their children in search of protection and dignity and away from violence and hunger”.

“When they finally believe they have arrived in safety, they may find themselves separated from their loved ones and locked in undignified conditions”, she continued, saying “this should never happen anywhere.”

Address root causes

UN human rights offices in Mexico and Central America have documented numerous violations and abuses against migrants and refugees in transit, including the excessive use of force, family separation, denial of services and arbitrary expulsions.

The High Commissioner said she recognized the “complexity of the situation and the challenges faced by States of origin, transit and destination”, calling on them to work together to address the root causes which force migrants to leave their homes. She said crosscutting policies needed to be put in place that consider the complex drivers of migration. These include insecurity, sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination and crippling poverty.

Ms. Bachelet also paid tribute to individuals and civil society organizations that have been supporting the basic rights of migrants, such as to water, food, health and shelter.

“The provision of lifesaving assistance is a human rights imperative that must be respected at all times and for all people in need” she said. “It is inconceivable that those who seek to provide such support would risk facing criminal charges”.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Backed by UN agency, countries set to take on deadly livestock-killing disease

Entrepreneur India Convention 2016: Bringing together Entrepreneurs, Investors, Startups and SMEs

COVID-19: A new drug is tested, and other top science stories of the week

The future of work requires a return to apprenticeships

UN human rights chief fears world has grown numb to Syrian carnage

“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

7 of the world’s 10 most polluted cities are in India

Reconciliation helps ‘repair fractures’, enable lasting peace, Security Council hears

Benjamin Franklin was wrong: Amazon can tax evade

‘InvestEU’ programme: big boost for jobs, growth and investment

How Kolkata is tackling its air pollution with public transportation

3 things to know about our Sustainable Development Impact Summit

Landmark agreement will protect 100 European Geographical Indications in China

Trump’s Pandemic Failure: A Missed Opportunity

Is the West gradually losing Africa?

UN experts decry torture of Rakhine men and boys held incommunicado by Myanmar’s military

The EU threatens to occupy Libya militarily; is another colonial war brewing?

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “Chinese economy has great potential, resilience and ample space for policy adjustment”, China’s Vice President Li Yuanchao reassures from Davos

Cyber-Risk Assessments: the vaccine for companies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Earth Hour 2019: switch off your lights, and become an innovator

At Ministerial session, UN regional office in Beirut to focus on technology for sustainable development

UN chief welcomes possibility of resumed talks between US and North Korea

Let your fingers do the walking

Coronavirus is officially a pandemic – but we can change its course: Today’s WHO briefing

This is how COVID-19 is affecting indigenous people

MWC 2016 LIVE: The top 5 themes of this year’s Mobile World Congress

Here’s why leaders need to care about mental health

How wealthy people transmit this advantage to their children and grand children

It’s not enough to respond to crises. We need to take action before they happen

Want a fairer society? This economist says he has the answer

Here’s how drone delivery will change the face of global logistics

Commission celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Jean Monnet Activities promoting European studies worldwide

Elections in Britain may reserve a surprise for May’s Tories

How can consumers be effectively protected from insurance sellers?

European Union: From financial consolidation to deeper political division

Scotland in United Kingdom: It’s either the end or the beginning of the end

Commission reports on progress made by Albania and North Macedonia

UN rights experts ‘gravely’ concerned at spike in civilian casualties in north-west Myanmar following internet shutdown

We must learn and change after Haiti sexual abuse scandal -Oxfam chief

ECB intervenes to clean May’s and Schäuble’s mess

The US-Mexico trade deal a threat for others, Trump to single out China, Europe

Coronavirus could trigger a hunger pandemic – unless urgent action is taken

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “We need more Schengen but reinforce control!”, France’s Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron emphasises from Davos

Attack on Saudi facilities risks dragging Yemen into ‘regional conflagration’: UN Envoy

Costa Rica is one of the world’s happiest countries. Here’s what it does differently

Chicken soup for the digital soul: how to bring community back online

EU-US Trade: European Commission endorses rebalancing duties on US products

Could Europe become the first climate-neutral continent?

Juncker’s Investment Plan in desperate need for trust and funds from public and private investors

Parliament and Council agree drastic cuts to plastic pollution of environment

How to build deforestation-free supply chains: lessons from Indonesia

Governments, businesses ‘walk the talk’ for investment in sustainable development: UN forum

Mental health in times of a pandemic: what can each individual do to lessen the burden?

The European Union continues to lead the global fight against climate change

End discrimination against women and children affected by leprosy

Back to the Basics: Primary Healthcare

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change and youth inaction: oblivion or nonchalance?”, AIESEC wonders from Brussels

Somalia’s population, international partners must be energized to sustain country’s ‘upward trajectory,’ says senior UN official

Does the Erasmus program really contribute to the construction of a solid EU identity?

‘Spectre of poverty’ hangs over tribes and indigenous groups: UN labour agency

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s