The United Nations high commissioner for human rights joined the outrage against the Trump administration’s policy of separating undocumented families at the border on Monday, calling the actions abusive.
Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the top official of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and former Jordanian ambassador to the U.N., called on the U.S. to immediately end the practice of “forcible separation” in an address at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council on Monday in Geneva.
“The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” al-Hussein said.
The U.N.’s human rights office addressed this policy on June 5, calling it a “serious violation of the rights of the child,” according to a New York Times report.
“Once again, the United Nations shows its hypocrisy by calling out the United States while it ignores the reprehensible human rights records of several members of its own Human Rights Council,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, an outspoken defender of the United States’ policies and actions, responded to critiques.
One of the hypocrisies Haley cites presumably refers to that of al-Hussein’s own government, in which the Human Rights Watch has reported multiple violations by Jordan over the years, including laws that criminalize speech that is critical of the king and Islam and not recognizing marriages between Muslim women and non-Muslim men.
A 2017 and 2018 Amnesty International report found ongoing human rights violations by security forces, including “late-night security raids where excessive force was used” in detention centers of very poor condition. The report also found issue with several cases of discrimination against women, particularly involving the Sharia court’s tendencies to rule in favor of husbands in divorce as well as its discretion to allow child marriages, some as young as age fifteen.
António Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, also weighed in on the controversy. “Refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect and dignity, and in accordance with existing international law,” he said, according to a statement from his spokesperson on Monday.
Most countries do not allow children and their adult parents to be detained in the same location, with an exception being North Korea, which is known for holding three generations for the crimes of a single individual.
The commissioner also cited a statement from the president of the American Association of Pediatrics, who deemed the practice “government-sanction[ed] child abuse” that will cause irreparable harm on the children’s lives.
Al-Hussein encouraged the U.S. government to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child in his opening speech on Monday. The U.S. is the only country to not have done so.
Al-Hussein has called out President Donald Trump before, going so far as to compare his campaign style to that of Islamic State propaganda. His “use of half-truths and oversimplification, the propaganda of Daesh uses tactics similar to those of the populists,” he said in 2016. (RELATED: Arab Prince Gets Ready To Lecture Trump About Human Rights)
The commissioner’s condemnation follows reports that the U.S. is expected to leave the council due to Haley’s accusations of an anti-Israel bias in the organization.
This is the last session of the Human Rights Council al-Hussein will open before he steps down from his position in August.
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