UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes that children must not be traumatized by being separated from their parents, his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said on Monday.
His voice was just one of many raised in objection to a recently introduced U.S. immigration policy that separates children from parents illegally crossing from Mexico into the United States resulting in their arrests.
Some 2,000 children taken from parents have been put in detention centers in southwestern U.S. states, U.S. officials said.
“As a matter of principle, the secretary-general believes that refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect and dignity, and in accordance with existing international law,” said Dujarric in a statement. “Family unity must be preserved.”
The secretary-general was concerned about the situation along the Mexico-U.S. border in the statement, read out by the spokesman at a regular press briefing.
“What the secretary-general would like to see at all borders is to see people being treated with dignity and respect for their rights, that people claiming asylum be given proper hearings,” Dujarric said.
“This is not a position that he has specifically against the United States. This is a principled position that he has for the way refugees and migrants are treated the world over.”
“We’ve all been following what’s going on at the border and I think he is concerned as anyone else,” said Dujarric.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was more direct.
“In the United States, I am deeply concerned by recently adopted policies which punish children for their parents’ actions,” he said in Geneva, home of the council.
The American Association of Pediatrics in the United States had called it a cruel practice of “government-sanctioned child abuse” which may cause “irreparable harm” with “lifelong consequences,” said Zeid. “The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.”
He called on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children, and encouraged the government to at last ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in order to ensure that the fundamental rights of all children, whatever their administrative status, will be at the center of all domestic laws and policies.
U.S. President Donald Trump continued to blame Democrats in Congress for their inaction for the arrests of parents and separate detention of their children.
On Monday, he repeated in tweets his accusation, repeatedly called out as untrue by his critics.
Trump said in one tweet, “Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change! This is why we need more Republicans elected in November. Democrats are good at only three things, High Taxes, High Crime and Obstruction. Sad!”
However, various media outlets in the United States have “fact checked” his allegations, refuting them, with some going beyond merely calling them “untruths” to actually call them “lies,” saying it is only his administration’s policy causing the separation and detention of children.
by William M. Reilly