US migrant children policy reversal ‘fails’ thousands of youngsters already held: UN experts
US President Donald Trump’s decision to reverse US policy on detaining migrant children does not help thousands of youngsters already forcibly separated from their parents there, senior UN rights experts said on Friday.
Appealing to the authorities to release the youngsters from immigration centres and reunite them with their families, the 11 experts insist that the detention of children “severely hampers their development and in some cases, may amount to torture”.
Their comments follow the US President’s decision to sign an executive order ending the practice on Wednesday, two months after the so-called “zero-tolerance” policy was introduced.
Also responding to the US reversal on detentions, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said that migrants should not be treated as criminals and that separation would lead to trauma.
Echoing that stance, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it was opposed to separating children from their families for the purposes of migration control.
Spokesperson Christophe Boulierac added that the agency would also be opposed to unconfirmed reports that children could stay with their families, if all of them had to remain in detention.
An alternative would be to take a non-custodial community approach, Mr. Boulierac added.
Human rights chief calls for international probe on Venezuela
In Venezuela, “credible, shocking accounts of extrajudicial killings” indicate that the rule of law “is virtually absent”, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday, in a call for an international inquiry into the alleged violations.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s written appeal to the UN Human Rights Council to mount a high-level investigation coincides with a new report by his office into the Latin American country.
Spokesperson for the High Commissioner, Ravina Shamdasani, confirmed in Geneva that the UN human rights office report provides an update on alleged abuses committed amid bloody demonstrations held against constitutional reforms proposed by President Nicolas Maduro.
Here she is speaking about allegations of extrajudicial killings:
“Witness accounts suggest that there was a pattern that took place during these operations. There were raids conducted in poor neighbourhoods to arrest so-called criminals without a judicial warrant; then there was a killing of young men who fit the profile — in some cases, in their homes. And finally, the security forces would tamper with the scene, so that the killing would appear to have occurred in an exchange of fire.”
The report also highlights the grave impact of social and economic crisis in Venezuela.
Families are “having to search in rubbish bins”, Ms. Shamdasani said, adding that 87 per cent of the population is affected by poverty.
The High Commissioner’s call for an international Commission of Inquiry will be heard by the Human Rights Council — the UN’s principal human rights organ — which is currently in session in Geneva.
It has previously created two such probes — on Syria and Burundi — following allegations of serious human rights violations there.
Women’s rights facing global pushback from conservativism, fundamentalism, UN experts warn
Women’s rights are under threat from a “backlash” of conservatism and fundamentalism around the world, a UN panel has warned.
Citing “rising authoritarianism, economic crises and rocketing inequality”, the Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice warned that hard-fought gains risk being reversed.
Reporting to the Human Rights Council, the expert panel also noted positive changes, including in reproductive rights — their comments coming after the recent Irish referendum to repeal a near-total constitutional ban on abortion.
Of the “many obstacles” to equality that women face, the UN report contends that the areas of family and culture, as well as sexual and reproductive health, “remain the most significant challenges” — and also where women face “the biggest backlash”.