UN experts call on US to release migrant children

By Fatih Erel |   Anadolu Agency |

GENEVA – UN experts on Friday called on the U.S. to release migrant children from detention and stop using them to deter irregular migration.

“The executive order signed by the US president on 20th June 2018 fails to address the situation of thousands of migrant children forcibly separated from their parents and held in detention at the border,” UN experts said in a statement.

The experts — including Felipe Gonzalez Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children; Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and others — issued a joint statement over the issue.

“This executive order does not address the situation of those children who have already been pulled away from their parents,” they said.

“We call on the Government of the US to release these children from immigration detention and to reunite them with their families based on the best interests of the child, and the rights of the child to liberty and family unity,” the experts said.

Noting that detention of children is “punitive” and may amount to “torture,” the experts said: “Children are being used as a deterrent to irregular migration, which is unacceptable.”

“There are also legitimate fears that some children may never be reunited with their parents as they are sent to different parts of the United States while their parents may have been deported,” the experts warned.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting his administration’s practice of separating undocumented parents suspected of crossing the border illegally from their children.

It is unclear what will become of the over 2,000 children who have already been taken from their parents.

Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy refers all apprehended undocumented adults for criminal prosecution — a break with past administrations who limited criminal referral for most adults who illegally cross into the U.S. with their juvenile family members.

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