Friday, February 22, 2019 | ePaper
US policy on migrant kids `unconscionable`: UN rights chief
AP, Geneva :
Children hold signs during a demonstration in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Miramar, Fla.
The U.N. human rights chief is urging the Trump administration to end new policies separating migrant children from their parents after entering the United States from Mexico, saying they've affected nearly 2,000 kids in the last six weeks.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says it's "unconscionable" that any country would seek to deter parents from migrating "by inflicting such abuse on children."
He spoke at Monday's opening of a regular Human Rights Council session, his last before his term ends in August.
Zeid, a Jordanian prince, also decried concerns about countries including Syria, Myanmar, Hungary, Nicaragua, Israel, North Korea, and India- and Pakistan-controlled parts of Kashmir.
He denounced the lack of access provided by U.N. member states to rights investigators, noting China has accumulated 15 pending requests in the last five years.
There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. delegation in the room, led by Geneva-based diplomat Jason Mack.
Reuters quoted activists and diplomats on Thursday as saying that talks with the United States over how to reform the main U.N. rights body have failed to meet Washington's demands, especially over its treatment of Israel, suggesting that the Trump administration will quit the forum.
Zeid said that "longstanding, grave and systematic" violations of human rights continued in North Korea and urged Pyongyang to cooperate with the U.N. rights investigator on the isolated country whose mandate it does not recognize.
Zeid cited clear indications of "well-organized, widespread and systematic attacks" continuing against Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar, "amounting possibly to acts of genocide", while conflict has escalated in Kachin and Shan states.
The Myanmar government's efforts to prosecute perpetrators have lacked credibility and human rights monitors must be on the ground before Rohingya refugees return from Bangladesh, he said.
Zeid accused China of preventing independent activists from testifying before U.N. rights bodies and voiced concern that conditions were "fast deteriorating" in the autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.
He urged the 47-member forum to set up international commissions on alleged violations in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Zeid, whose four-year term finishes at the end of August, said that his office was committed to its "gargantuan task". He received a standing ovation at the end of his remarks.