United Nations/UN

The UN has described as ‘unconscionable’, the U.S. border policy of forcibly separating migrant children from parents.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, defended the rights of migrant and refugee children.

The UN chief did not, however, single out the U.S. but made a general statement.

As a matter of principle, the Secretary-General said he believed that refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect, dignity and in accordance with existing international law.

“Children must not be traumatised by being separated from their parents. Family unity must be preserved,’’ the UN chief said.

As part of his final global update, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Al Hussein, also voiced his deep concern over the U.S. border protection policies.

“In the past six weeks, nearly two thousand children have been forcibly separated from their parents,’’ Al Hussein said in his opening remarks to the 38th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

He said the American Association of Paediatrics in the U.S., had called it a cruel practice of “government-sanctioned child abuse’’ which might cause “irreparable harm” with “lifelong consequences”.

“The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,’’ he said.

The UN Chief called on the U.S. to immediately put a stop to the policy and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The human rights situation in the U.S. was one of the many topics to be discussed at the latest Human Rights Council session, which runs through July 6.

Zeid also expressed his deep concern about a bill presented to Parliament in Hungary in May which, if adopted, would criminalise human rights monitoring at borders and within border zones.

The bill would also criminalise the provision of information, legal aid and assistance to migrants.

The High Commissioner stressed that “people do not lose their human rights by virtue of crossing a border without a visa.’’

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