Nikki Haley calls Human Rights Council UN's 'greatest failure' in bid to justify US exit

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has launched another attack on the UN human rights body, calling it a failure for listing such countries as China and Cuba among its members. She had no qualms about Saudi Arabia, though.

Haley was speaking at the Heritage Foundation think tank, explaining the reasons for the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, which had drawn almost unanimous condemnation, on Wednesday. She singled out Cuba, China and Venezuela as the countries whose presence supposedly tarnishes the council's credibility.

FILE PHOTO Los Angeles, California

 

Pointing at the Council's membership criteria as one of its two major problems, along with its supposed bias against US ally Israel, Haley said that since she took office and up until now "its members included some of the worst human rights violators – the dictatorships of Cuba, China and Venezuela all have seats on the Council."

She took particular aim at Venezuela, slamming the council for inviting the Latin American country's President Nicolas Maduro, who she labelled a "dictator," to address the body in 2015. Haley said it was no wonder Maduro received a standing ovation, as "62 percent of Council members were not democracies."

Accusing the Council of being fixated on Israel, Haley argued that it turns a blind eye to the situation in Venezuela, Cuba and China. She also included Zimbabwe, which is not a member of the HRC.

"[The Human Rights Council] has focused its attention unfairly, and relentlessly on Israel meanwhile it ignored the misery, inflicted by regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe and China."

She ultimately summed up her opinion of the UNHRC by branding it the UN's "greatest failure."

"Judging by how it has fallen short of its promise, the Human Rights Council is the UN's greatest failure. It has taken the idea of human dignity… and it has reduced it to just another instrument of international politics," she said.

Choosing the "undemocratic" UNHRC members to pick on, Haley preferred to step around Saudi Arabia, another major US ally, and its highly problematic record. The ultra-conservative kingdom has been embroiled in the bloodshed in Yemen, leading the three-year bombing campaign that resulted in numerous civilian casualties and prompted human rights activists to call for Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman's arrests for alleged war crimes.

 
© Fayez Nureldine 

In its recent report, Human Rights Watch said that at least 87 "apparently unlawful" raids were conducted by the Saudi-led coalition since the onset of the campaign that claimed about 1,000 civilian lives, destroying homes and civilian infrastructure. Internally, despite loosening some of its decades-old restrictions and allowing women to drive and go to stadiums, Riyadh continues its crackdown on dissent and is not in a hurry to abolish barriers that impede girls and women from making some basic decisions without the prior consent of a male relative.

The US formally announced its decision to quit the UNHRC in June, dismissing the international body as the "protector of human rights abuses and cesspool of political bias" for its criticism of Israel's clampdown on Palestinians. Its seat was taken by Iceland in a landslide vote in July.

  • Published in World

Migrants In US Custody Describe Life In 'Ice Boxes' And 'Dog Pounds'

During their detention last month in a US Customs and Border Protection facility in Laredo, Texas, Karen and her two young sons were constantly cold. The family, which fled violence in Honduras, slept on a hard floor in a holding cell without mattresses, she said, their clothes still wet from crossing the Rio Grande.

"I can only hold one at a time to keep them warm. Whoever I am not holding is cold," she said in one of more than 200 sworn statements filed this week in a long-running lawsuit challenging conditions for children in immigration custody.

The statements, which were taken in June and July and identify immigrants only by their first names, provide a rare window into life in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. Migrants like Karen and her children who crossed into the United States illegally, as well as those who applied for asylum at the border, are often held in such facilities before being released or transferred to longer-term detention centres.

A nursing mother named Serafin, who said she fled Mexico after a cartel member threatened to rape her and kill her baby, said she was given too little food at a facility in San Ysidro, California.

"I am not producing enough breast milk to feed my baby because I am not eating enough," she said in her statement. "My daughter cries a lot because she is hungry."

A woman named Mayra said her 9-year-old son became fearful after their detention in Nogales, Arizona, where he saw children separated from their parents.

"He saw someone bound with chains and asked me whether I would be chained in the same way," she said. "He wonders when we will get to the United States. I do not tell him that we are already here. He wouldn't believe that the United States would treat us this way."

4ronbkrgFew immigrants said that conditions were adequate, most described cold temperatures, too little food.

LONG-RUNNING LAWSUIT

The statements were taken by attorneys for plaintiffs in a case brought against the U.S. government in 1985 on behalf of 15-year-old Jenny L. Flores. A 1997 settlement in the lawsuit set standards for humane treatment of children in detention and ordered their prompt release in most cases.

This week, the plaintiffs filed papers alleging that the detention conditions described in the declarations violate the humane treatment standards set out in the settlement, including speedy release of children.

"We now see many in CBP custody for three to six days," up from two to three days in prior months, said Peter Schey, the lead attorney for plaintiffs in the Flores case.

Reuters was unable to speak directly to the migrants who gave declarations because they weren't fully identified in the filing, and most of them are still in detention.

CBP referred requests for comment on the migrant statements to the Department of Justice, which declined to comment. In the past, CBP has defended conditions in its facilities.

In a report filed in the Flores case last month, CBP juvenile coordinator Henry Moak Jr. said that the department makes extensive efforts "to ensure all minors in CBP custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors."

He said parents and children he interviewed had "received meals and snacks; had access to drinking water, functioning toilets, and functioning sinks; and were held in rooms that were maintained at an appropriate temperature."

He also noted, however, that CBP should ensure that food was not kept past its expiration date and that custodial data was consistently entered into records.

Moak referred requests for comment to CBP.

'ICE BOXES' AND 'DOG POUNDS'

Reports of harsh conditions in CBP facilities have surfaced repeatedly for years, including again recently when the government began separating children and parents. The new declarations are remarkable both for the number of detainee voices and the consistency of detail in what they report.

While a few immigrants said that conditions were adequate, most described cold temperatures, too little food, difficult separations from their children and crowded cells without enough sleeping mats. They said latrines were dirty and lacked privacy and that lights stayed on day and night.

James Tomsheck, who served as assistant commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection for internal affairs from 2006 to 2014, told Reuters that the facilities were designed for brief stays.

oejtjgm8Reports of harsh conditions in CBP facilities have surfaced repeatedly for years. (Reuters)

"There is no question that the amount of time persons are being held at these, what are designed to be temporary detention facilities, has become much longer than it was intended."

Detainees refer to some of the facilities as "hieleras," Spanish for "ice boxes" because they are so cold. Larger spaces with indoor fencing are referred to as "perreras" or "dog pounds."

Children in the facilities were often held in separate cells from their parents, according to the statements.

A woman named Leydi, held in Chula Vista, California, described watching young children trying to touch their parents through metal fences.

"The mothers tried to reach their children, and I saw children pressing up against the fence of the cage to try to reach out," she said. "But officials pulled the children away and yelled at their mothers."

John Sandweg, acting director of ICE from 2013 to 2014, said the problems stem from the fact that holding areas were designed to lock up adults for just a few hours while CBP processed paperwork.

"They're inappropriate, frankly, for children," he said.

  • Published in World

US Judge Orders List Of Children Separated From Migrant Parents

Los Angeles: A California judge on Friday gave the US government until the following night to submit a list of children under five separated from their families at the border, a government official said.

US President Donald Trump's administration had asked the court to extend a deadline to reunite some detained children with their migrant parents, arguing it needed more time to perform necessary checks and confirm identities.

Judge Dana Sabraw had issued an injunction on June 26 requiring the government to reunite detained migrant children under the age of five within 14 days and those over that age within 30 days.

More than 2,300 children, around 100 of them under the age of five, were separated from their families as a consequence of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy that saw their parents prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, even if they did so to seek asylum.

Several hundred have already been reunited with their parents, but the government has struggled to keep up, and it admitted Thursday to using DNA tests to determine parentage.

us detention facility rio grande reutersThe separation of children as young as 3 from their parents led to protests and public outcry. 

In total, about 11,800 migrant children are currently detained by US authorities after having crossed the border illegally, but 80 percent of them are teenagers who arrived alone, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has said.

"The judge made it very clear he wasn't going to allow the Trump administration to drag its feet on reunifying these children with their parents," Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, said of the Friday ruling.

Back to court

The ACLU brought the case that led to Sabraw's injunction on behalf of migrant parents.

But according to a government official, the judge did not formally rule out extending the period, and another hearing will be held on Monday.

In a filing submitted Thursday, the US Department of Justice said HHS was using DNA swab testing to determine parentage.

But it said that even though the department "is moving expeditiously to undertake these DNA tests, that process takes meaningful time, even when it is expedited."

It added that given the possibility of false claims, "confirming parentage is critical to ensure that children are returned to their parents, not to potential traffickers," and that the government also needed to determine whether the adults had a criminal history or could present a danger to their children.

The government did not request a specific new set of deadlines, but instead sought to "prepare a proposal for an alternative timeline."

It also sought relief from a paragraph in the original injunction that prohibits the government from detaining adult migrants without their children, arguing it could be read to require the release of such detainees if they had not been reunified within the time frame set by the court.

President Donald Trump, who has made fighting illegal and legal immigration a central plank of his US-centered policy agenda, reversed his government's "zero tolerance" policy on June 20 following public outcry.

  • Published in World

Cuba Repeats Support for Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights

Geneva, Jul 3 (Prensa Latina) Cuba today repeated its support for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council, to which it was submitted recently as a show of its commitment to that mechanism, Cuban representative Pablo Berti noted.

When speaking at the 38th Ordinary Session of the Human Rights Council, the Cuban diplomat called on all countries to continue to work for the consolidation of the achievements and results of the UPR, which has proved to be effective and useful.

'No one could question its success, although the selectivity and politicization in the treatment of human rights have increasingly become entrenched in the Council's works,' he stressed.

In that regard, the Cuban representative expressed concern about the efforts to undermine the foundational bases of the UPR, and noted that 'achieving more efficiency of the Council cannot be used, under any concept, to eliminate the intergovernmental nature of the review.'

Berti favored taking into consideration the concerns of the States and strictly complying with what was established in the institutional construction package.

'The universality of this mechanism is essential. So is the fair treatment of all members of the United Nations, bringing about an objective and periodic review, in a climate of respect and mutual cooperation,' he stated.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba rejects at UN Council manipulation of human rights issues

Geneva, June 28 (RHC)-- Cuba rejected at United Nations headquarters in Geneva the politicization of the issue of Human Rights, as well as the manipulation, double standards and selectivity of its treatment.

Speaking at the 38th regular session of the UN Council for Human Rights, Cuban ambassador Pedro Luis Pedroso regretted that ‘dialogue and cooperation, some of the foundations on which the Council was created,  have been left aside and confrontation, politicization, selectivity and double standards have been privileged, 'Prensa Latina reported.

The Cuban representative denounced that debate continues to be used so that powerful countries, seeking to establish themselves as paradigms of promotion and protection of human rights, criticize countries of the South, omitting their own and serious violations of human rights.

'There is no talk of the rising to worrisome levels of xenophobia, racism and intolerance in those countries that refuse to recognize the right to development, as a basic human right', he deplored.

The diplomat expressed the rejection of the use of the human rights issue 'to exert political pressure and seek to impose punitive actions, with the objective of promoting regime changes'.

Pedroso reiterated Cuba's solidarity with the governments and peoples of Venezuela and Nicaragua and called for an end to all interference in the internal affairs of those countries.

The Ambassador said that the island  will continue its struggle so that its society is as fair as possible, promoting international solidarity and cooperation, with the conviction that through dialogue and respect it is possible to achieve a better world for all.'

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
  • Published in Cuba

Trump says illegal immigrants should be deported with 'no judges or court cases'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Sunday that people who enter the United States illegally should be sent back immediately to where they came from without any judicial process, likening them to invaders who are trying to “break into” the country.

His proposal drew immediate criticism from legal analysts and immigrant rights advocates who said it would violate the U.S. Constitution’s due process provision, which applies to citizens and non-citizens alike.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Trump said: “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.”

“Cannot accept all of the people trying to break into our Country. Strong Borders, No Crime!”

It was unclear if Trump was advocating an expansion of the provision that allows expedited removals of illegal immigrants at or near the U.S. border, a policy his administration has embraced since he took office. Nor did Trump differentiate between illegal immigrants and people who entered the United States to seek asylum protection.

The White House did not return a call seeking clarification.

“The president of the United States has just forcefully proposed the end of political asylum and no due process for migrants,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, wrote on Twitter.

Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told Reuters: “The administration cannot simply get rid of all process for immigrants. The due process clause absolutely applies. It’s not a choice.”

Authorities can bypass due process protections with the expedited removals policy that allows quick deportations if an immigrant is apprehended within 100 miles (160 km) of the border and has been in the country less than 14 days. Those seeking asylum must be granted a hearing.

Trump’s tweets on Sunday came after a week of global outcry over images and video of crying children and their distraught parents separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Critics in Trump’s Republican Party, as well as his wife and daughter, urged him to abandon the policy.

The president buckled to the pressure on Wednesday, issuing an executive order that ended the separations. But the government has yet to reunite more than 2,000 children with their parents.

TRUMP FUMES OVER IMMIGRATION

But Trump’s frustration over the issue only grew. He has issued a drumbeat of criticism of the immigration system and Democrats in Congress, while using increasingly harsh terms such as “invasion” and “infestation” to describe illegal immigration.

“Here, I think he is making it clear, he just doesn’t want anybody here. He wants people to just be sent back, no matter what,” said Jorge Baron, executive director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, who compared Sunday’s tweets with comments Trump was reported to have made in January about immigrants from “shithole” countries.

While some who advocate for stricter immigration rules have argued that people are making fraudulent asylum claims or abusing the loopholes in U.S. immigration laws, Baron said Trump’s views went way beyond those arguments.

Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting adults for entering the country illegally entails a process that typically takes many months. That required children to be separated from parents because they are not legally allowed to be kept in detention for more than 20 days.

Keeping the children with their migrant parents as they await court proceedings faces obstacles, however, including the lack of sufficient housing, a paucity of immigration judges and a daunting backlog of cases.

Under expedited removal proceedings, which are used most commonly at ports of entry, an immigration official can evaluate an immigrant’s claim and reject it with no involvement by an immigration judge or review board.

The Trump administration called last year for the expansion of the expedited removals program to immigrants who have been in the country illegally for up to two years.

https://s1.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20180624&t=2&i=1276035116&r=LYNXMPEE5N0T0&w=940
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Nevada Republican Party Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

There is an exception from expedited removal for those with a credible fear of returning home.

Lindsay Harris, an assistant professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia, said those with no credible fear could still see a judge, while those with such a fear could begin a long legal process that eventually could result in asylum and applying for a work permit.

“It’s already an extremely truncated process,” the ACLU’s Gelernt said. “The president’s suggestion that there is a ton of process for these individuals is simply wrong. There are already people being removed with a truncated process.”

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney

  • Published in World

Separating Children From Parents At US Border "Unconscionable", Says UN

Geneva:  The UN human rights chief on Monday urged Washington to stop separating migrant children from their parents at the US border, describing the policy as "unconscionable".

"The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable," Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said as he opened a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The "zero-tolerance" border security policy implemented by President Donald Trump's administration has sparked global outrage.

The government has said that during one recent six-week period nearly 2,000 minors were separated from their parents or adult guardians.

The number of separations has jumped since early May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all migrants illegally crossing the US border with Mexico would be arrested, regardless of whether the adults were seeking asylum.

Since children cannot be sent to the facilities where their parents are held, they are separated.

Zeid quoted the American Association of Pediatrics as describing the practice as "government-sanctioned child abuse" which may cause "irreparable harm," with "lifelong consequences".

"I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children," he said, urging Washington to ratify the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

The US is the only country that has not ratified the convention.

Ratification, Zeid said, would "ensure that the fundamental rights of all children, whatever their administrative status, will be at the centre of all domestic laws and policies."

Zeid's address at the start of the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council marks his last address to the body before he is due to step down at the end of August.

The session kicked off under a cloud of growing US criticism of the council. Diplomatic sources said there was a risk that Washington may withdraw from the council altogether.
  • Published in World

‘Julian Assange could die in Ecuadorian embassy’ – Pamela Anderson

Anderson appeared on Tuesday’s installment of ‘Good Morning Britain,’ hosted by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid. Having complemented the former Playboy model on her looks, and asked her if she had dressed up for his benefit, Morgan got down to more serious matters.

“He’s awful. It’s terrible,” said Anderson when asked how her friend Assange was doing. “They’ve cut off internet access. He’s a political prisoner in the heart of London. It’s very surprising. Cut off from everybody.”

Asked if she “feared he was going to die in there,” Anderson replied: “He could. He’s human and I don’t know who could tolerate this, he’s a political prisoner and he’s a hero so we need to support him.”

Anderson confirmed she can no longer communicate with the man for whom she has previously expressed her love. “No, nobody can visit him right now. His lawyers possibly.” Anderson went on to say that she had visited him every time she was London up to now but that is no longer possible and she is very concerned about his health.

“I’m very, very, very, concerned, deeply concerned for him. He’s one of the most important people on the planet right now,” she said. “He’s exposing all of these war crimes and truths and we really need him at this moment. And it’s not a coincidence that he is being silenced at this time.”

Anderson believes it’s possible her relationship with Assange is being investigated. “Probably, gosh, I wouldn’t be surprised,” the Canadian address admitted before reiterating her concerns for Assange and calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to do something.

“The UK is being so stupid they have to make a decision, they keep on passing the buck no-one wants to take responsibility and they want to extradite him to the US, 100 percent, and that would be life in prison or worse,” Anderson continued.

“There’s so much going on in the world right now, I want to know what he’s thinking.”

Anderson went on to say that Assange is being “abused” and that it’s a human rights issue.

When Reid suggested that many people feel Assange should face “justice,” Anderson replied: “For what? Telling the truth and exposing war crimes. He’s not the culprit, just the messenger. You should know you’re journalists, it’s the same thing.”

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed