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  • An asylum seekers from Central America Exodus climbs metal border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, November 18, 2018

    An asylum seekers from Central America Exodus climbs metal border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, November 18, 2018 | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 November 2018

A letter from UN experts tells Trump to stop fueling racial hatred and fear against 'non-white' caravan members, work with Central America to fix root causes of migration. 

United Nations human rights experts are calling out the Trump administration for fueling racism and xenophobia which they say “flies in the face of international human rights equality and non-discrimination standards.”

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In a communique from the U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commission, ten special rapporteurs sent individual letters to the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States urging them to “abide by international law” and ensure the human rights of the thousands of Central American Exodus members seeking asylum in the United States.

In the letter to the U.S. government, the rapporteurs said that the “xenophobic language and practices used by US authorities, ... fly in the face of international human rights equality and non-discrimination standards.”

The U.N. statement went on: “The official response in that country, in addition to violating international law, stigmatizes migrants and refugees, equating them with crime and epidemics. It fuels a climate of intolerance, racial hatred, and xenophobia against those perceived as non-white, creating hostile emotional environments,” for migrants and the general public.

“It is of particular concern that such rhetoric is expressed by high-level authorities, leading to the escalation and normalisation of hate speech, incitement to hatred and discrimination in the political and public sphere,” wrote the experts who include Michel Forst, an expert on human rights defenders.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump again threatened to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t approve funding for the border wall estimated to cost as much as US$72 billion, according to Business Insider.

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Forst and others say they are highly concerned about the Trump decision to use military force at the U.S. southern border where Sunday hundreds of asylum seekers were met with border patrol shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at them.

“Experience shows that when armed forces are used to perform tasks that they are not trained to do, this usually leads to serious violations of human rights,” the experts said. They add that all four nations are intentionally creating obstacles for the Exodus members to apply for U.S. asylum, their right by international law.   

The U.N. experts called on all the countries to provide the most basic human needs to caravan — health care, “water, food, and shelter.” Otherwise they will become increasingly “vulnerable to traffickers and other forms of exploitation.”

The rapporteurs call on the governments to fix the root causes of Central American mass migration toward the north rather than generating xenophobia.

“Rather than fuelling tensions with hate speech and threats, governments should work together to tackle inequality, poverty, social exclusion, violence, insecurity, environmental degradation and persecution as the main drivers of migration in Central America,” they say, adding, “cooperation between these states is urgently required to develop more accessible, regular, safe and affordable migration channels.”

The experts say the caravan will continue until the “extreme human rights violations” in the asylum seekers’ home countries improves.

Most of the Exodus members are Hondurans fleeing death threats, judicial impunity, and a poverty rate that sits at 70 percent.  

While the Mexican government says it deported 200 from the caravan, mainly from Honduras, they also granted 614 asylum seekers in Tijuana humanitarian visas that will allow them to work within the country.

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