Sat, Jun 23, 2018 - Page 1 News List

UN criticizes Trump over detentions of children at border

AFP, GENEVA, Switzerland

An activist protests against US President Donald Trump and the separation of immigrant children from their parents outside the US consulate in Merida, Mexico, on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

The UN yesterday acknowledged Washington’s decision to stop separating migrant families at the US-Mexico border, but insisted that detaining children with their parents was not the solution.

“Children should never be detained for reasons related to their or their parents’ migration status,” UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland. “It is never in the best interest of the child for them to be detained.”

Her comments came two days after US President Donald Trump, in a stunning about-face, ordered an end to his administration’s widely criticized policy of separating families at the border.

Images and recordings of wailing children detained in cage-like enclosures ignited global outrage.

Trump’s executive order would keep families together, but in custody indefinitely while the parents are prosecuted for entering the US illegally.

The president’s order also suggests the government intends to hold families indefinitely by challenging a 1997 court ruling known as the Flores settlement, which places a 20-day limit on how long children, alone or with their parents, can be detained.

Shamdasani criticized this solution, saying that Washington “needs to explore non-custodial alternatives to detention, bearing in mind first and foremost the human rights of these migrants, in particular where families and children are involved.”

“Irregular migration should not be a criminal offense. These people should not be treated as criminals,” she said.

The UN is calling for the “US to just overhaul its migration policies, urging it to find “community-based alternatives to detention for children and families,” she said.

The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, also opposes the policy, spokesman Christophe Boulierac said.

“We are working with governments to change that,” he said, adding that there are “alternatives which are working,” including appointing community members who can guarantee that a child would show up in court.

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