Trump travel ban could break international law - UN

  • 09/03/2017
Anti-Trump protesters in Washington DC (Reuters)
Anti-Trump protesters in Washington DC (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump's immigration policies could lead to collective expulsions of migrants in a breach of international law, the United Nations human rights chief says.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commmissioner for Human Rights, also voiced concern on Wednesday at the new US policy banning entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, which was announced on Monday after Mr Trump's controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts.

Greater leadership was needed to address a surge in discrimination, anti-Semitism and violence against ethnic and religious minorities in the US, he said in an annual speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"Vilification of entire groups such as Mexicans and Muslims, and false claims that migrants commit more crimes than US citizens, are harmful and fuel xenophobic abuses," Prince Zeid said.

He voiced dismay at "attempts by the President to intimidate or undermine journalists and judges".

The revised policies would greatly increase the number of migrants at immediate risk of deportation, regardless of the number of years spent in the United States or family roots, Prince Zeid said.

"Expedited deportations could amount to collective expulsions and refoulement, in breach of international law, if undertaken without due process guarantees, including individual assessment," Prince Zeid said, referring to the UN Refugee Convention that prohibits sending back people who are fleeing war, violence or persecution.

He was particularly concerned about the impact of children "who face being detained, or may see their families torn apart".