UN to report on rights abuses of immigrants in United States

The UN is expected to release a report shortly that will shed light on human rights violations of migrants in the United States. The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council by Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante, who conducted a controversial fact-finding mission in the US from April 30 to May 17. The visit was arranged to investigate concerns including arbitrary detention, separation of families, substandard conditions of detention, procedural violations in criminal and administrative law proceedings, racial and ethnic discrimination, arbitrary and collective expulsions and violations of children’s and women’s rights. [UN press release, May 17]

But US officials were uncooperative with Bustamante, as he was denied access to immigration detention facilities in Texas [UPI, May 21] and New Jersey [NJ Herald News, May 15]. In a letter to US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, Bustamante stated: “Both these visits were part of the approved itinerary agreed with the government of the United States. In neither case has the [US] Government consulted me on the changes, or provided any explanation of the necessity for such cancellation.” [Herald News, May 17]

The detention center in Texas has come under fire by critics who argue that the facility is run like a prison and families detained there are subjected to psychologically abusive guards, inadequate medical care and inhumane conditions. [AP, May 7] The ACLU sued federal officials in March on behalf of several children detained at the T. Don Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas. [ACLU]

“I am particularly concerned with the treatment of children, and children’s human rights,” said Bustamante, after his schedule visit was cancelled. “I have heard of violation of human rights of children there.”

Among Bustamante’s recommendations is that the U.S. ensure that domestic laws and immigration enforcement activities are consistent with its international obligations to protect the rights of migrant workers.

He said those rights are spelled out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and All Forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (CAT), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Also, he urged Washington to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. [APP, May 21]

Cyril Mychalejko for Upside Down World, June 14

See our last post on the immigration crackdown.