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GENEVA U.N. human rights experts said on
Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban on nationals
from seven Muslim-majority states contravenes international law
and could lead to people denied asylum being sent home to face
Trump’s executive order curbing immigration has aroused an
international outcry, even among U.S. allies, and sown chaos and
bewilderment among travelers. Legal challenges have spread with
three U.S. states suing to overturn the order, saying it flouts
constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.
In a statement, the U.N. experts urged the Trump
administration to protect people fleeing war and persecution and
uphold the principle of non-discrimination based on race,
nationality and religion. The United States should not force
back refugees, a practice known as refoulement, they said.
“Such an order is clearly discriminatory based on one’s
nationality and leads to increased stigmatization of Muslim
communities,” the experts’ statement said.
“Recent U.S. policy on immigration also risks people being
returned, without proper individual assessments and asylum
procedures, to places in which they risk being subjected to
torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in
direct contravention of international humanitarian and human
rights laws which uphold the principle of non-refoulement.”
The independent experts included the U.N. special
rapporteurs on migrants, François Crépeau; on racism, Mutuma
Ruteere; on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson; on
torture, Nils Melzer; and on freedom of religion, Ahmed Shaheed.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad
al-Hussein said on Monday that discriminating against people on
the basis of their nationality is illegal.
The U.N. experts voiced concern that people travelling to
the United States could be subject to detention for indefinite
periods and ultimately deported. They called on Washington to
live up to internationally agreed obligations to offer refuge to
those fleeing persecution and conflicts.
Melzer also urged Trump not to consider returning to
waterboarding and other methods of torture as interrogation
techniques used during George W. Bush’s administration but
banned by his Democratic successor Barack Obama. Trump has said
he believes waterboarding works but his top defence and security
appointees have said they would oppose any use of it.
“Any tolerance, complacency or acquiescence with such
practice, however exceptional and well-argued, will inevitably
lead down a slippery slope towards complete arbitrariness and
brute force,” Melzer said.
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