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U.S. Government Deals Fresh Blow to Asylum Seekers with UNHCR Snub

The following statement is attributable to Physicians for Human Rights’ Asylum Network Program Officer Kathryn Hampton, MSt:

“Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is deeply concerned by the decision of the United States to oppose text in a UN resolution regarding the work of its refugee agency, the UNHCR. The United States is the only country in the world to oppose the UN text and, with this move, it effectively turns its back on a global approach to solving refugee and migrant issues. It also signals a rejection of international refugee law, and is another example of how the U.S. government is opting to criminalize asylum seekers rather than put mechanisms in place to protect them.

“The United States’ zero-tolerance policy, which is resulting in mass criminalization and indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers – including hundreds of children – under the guise of this being in the best interests of its people, is in fact a rejection of long-standing U.S. principles which protect the inalienable rights of those who are vulnerable. Furthermore, refusing to hear the asylum claims of people who cross the border between U.S. ports of entry violates both U.S. and international law, as stipulated in Article 31(1) of the UN Refugee Convention, as well as Sec. 208 (a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“PHR urges the U.S. government to support UN efforts to create global approaches and guidelines to address the needs of refugees and migrants. The rights to protection and dignity should be top priorities. PHR urges the U.S. government to immediately implement alternatives to detention – including community-based solutions – which have been proven to have high compliance rates, to be cost effective, and most importantly to prevent human rights violations arising from detention. Prolonged or indefinite detention of children and families violates the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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