Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU celebra sesión especial sobre Iraq
01 de septiembre, 2014 — El grupo Estado Islámico de Iraq y el Levante (EIIL) y sus asociados están sometiendo a la población civil en el norte de Iraq a violaciones de derechos humanos generalizadas e inimaginables, que pueden constituir crímenes de guerra, de acuerdo con la Oficina de Derechos Humanos de la ONU.
Las violaciones incluyen asesinato, tortura, conversiones forzadas, secuestros, la esclavitud, violencia sexual y física y el asedio de comunidades enteras sobre la base de su pertenencia étnica, religiosa o sectaria.
Al hablar ante el Consejo de Derechos Humanos en el inicio de una sesión especial sobre la situación en Iraq, la Alta Comisionada Adjunta para esas garantías, Flavia Pansieri, afirmó que el grupo militante había participado en el secuestro y el reclutamiento de niños como combatientes.
“Estos delitos inhumanos y odiosos constituyen un ataque grave y deliberado contra la dignidad humana y los derechos humanos, que pueden constituir crimenes contra la humanidad. A pesar de que este conflicto ha reducido severamente el control del Gobierno iraquí sobre grandes partes de su territorio, el Gobierno sigue teniendo la responsabilidad principal de proteger a todas las personas en su territorio, y debe esforzarse por cumplir sus obligaciones”, dijo Pansieri.
Un proyecto de resolución ante el Consejo solicita a la Oficina de Derechos Humanos de la ONU enviar una misión a Iraq para investigar las presuntas violaciones y abusos contra el derecho internacional cometidos por el ISIL y grupos terroristas asociados con miras a garantizar que rindan cuenta por sus atrocidades.
Crítica, desaparición de personas en México: ONU
La Oficina en México del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos señaló que México enfrenta una situación crítica en materia de desaparición de personas.
Señaló que las víctimas van en aumento, pues además de las personas que fueron desaparecidas en las décadas de los sesenta, setenta y ochenta se suman las de los últimos años.
Destacó que en cualquiera de los casos, las víctimas merecen justicia, verdad y reparación.
“La ONU-DH seguirá haciendo eco de sus legítimos reclamos y mantendrá en alta prioridad la defensa de sus derechos, reiterando su permanente disposición a cooperar con las autoridades para que den respuestas eficaces a las víctimas y garanticen la implementación efectiva de sus compromisos internacionales”, señaló el organismo.
Indicó que como muestra del compromiso del Gobierno mexicano, éste debería reconocer la competencia del Comité contra la Desaparición Forzada de la ONU, para que se puedan recibir y examinar comunicaciones de personas que aleguen ser víctimas de una desaparición.
Además, hizo un llamado al Poder Legislativo para que emita una ley general e integral en materia de desaparición de personas acorde con los compromisos internacionales adoptados por el Estado mexicano, que retome y fortalezca las diversas iniciativas presentadas, incluida la del Presidente de la República.
Lebanon: Migrant Workers’ Children Expelled
(Beirut) – Lebanon is expelling locally born children of migrant workers and in some cases their mothers, ten nongovernmental organizations working in Lebanon said today. A recent decision by General Security, Lebanon’s security agency in charge of foreigners’ entry and residency, to deny residency permit renewals for a number of low-wage migrants who have had children in Lebanon and for their children disproportionately interferes with the right to family life.
Since May 2014, nearly a dozen female migrant workers, many of them longstanding residents of Lebanon, reported to human rights groups that when they went to General Security to renew residency papers for themselves and their children, they were turned down. Some were told they were not allowed to have children in Lebanon and given a short period of time to leave the country. In some cases, they said, they were given as little as 48 hours.
“Under General Security’s new directive some families are being torn apart while others are apparently being denied their livelihoods simply because they’ve had children in Lebanon,” said Nadim Houry, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Human Rights Watch. “The Lebanese authorities have not given any justification for this new policy and should immediately revoke this directive as it interferes with the right to family life.”
Under Lebanese residency regulations, certain categories of low-wage migrants, particularly domestic workers, are not allowed to sponsor residency for their spouses or children. However, in the past, Lebanon-born children of the migrants could apply for year-long residency up until age four and then could apply for residency if they enrolled in school.
Sources within General Security have confirmed to nongovernmental groups that the agency has a new directive regarding the renewal of residency permits for Lebanon-born children of low-wage migrants and their migrant parents. Despite written requests from the nongovernmental groups to receive a copy of the directive the agency has yet to respond. Activists say the directive was apparently adopted in January 2014, but has been applied more stringently since May and has resulted in the expulsion of some family members of migrant workers.
In one case, a Ghanaian woman told the organizations she was separated from her 10-year-old son when General Security refused to renew his residency permit even though he was enrolled in school. She said she sent her child back to Ghana alone so that she would not lose her residency and job in Lebanon.
In another case, a 13-year-old Sri Lankan boy who was born in Lebanon and had lived there all his life and his mother were issued deportation notices by General Security in June even though the boy was enrolled in school. His father, also from Sri Lanka, was not expelled from Lebanon.
The boy, who is now in Sri Lanka, told the organizations:
Someone at the Lebanese General Security said that they were not issuing visas to children anymore. We only had two days to leave. I had had a residency permit in Lebanon since I was born. I never lived in Sri Lanka before. My mom and I are now in Sri Lanka. My mom has no work here and is trying to go back to Lebanon. My dad is still in Lebanon. If she leaves, I will have to stay here and live with my cousins.
A woman from Madagascar told the organizations that, “When my friend went to General Security to renew her children’s residency, she was told that residencies are for people who come here to work, not to have children.”
Most of the migrants who reported the problem have lived in Lebanon for more than a decade. All had given birth in Lebanon since moving there to work. None said that they previously had any problem getting residency permits for themselves or their children.
The migrants affected told the organizations that their children have few or no ties to their home country and many do not speak their parents’ native tongue, making the potential for successful integration in schools back home very difficult. Many of these migrants come from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ghana, South Sudan, and Madagascar. It is unclear how many families have been affected, but certain migrant community leaders reported that the decision has affected many of their members.
Migrants who remain in the country unlawfully risk arrest and prolonged detention before deportation and are unable to safely access public services. Migrant children are required to have a residency permit to enroll in public schools, human rights activists said.
Based on research by the organizations, all migrant workers interviewed who were affected by the decision so far appear to be women who are Category 3 and 4 workers under Lebanon’s labor regulations – low-paid workers in industries such as sanitation, agriculture, and domestic work. Although foreign workers in these categories are not allowed to sponsor the residency for their spouses or children, until recently, women in these categories could extend their residency permits to include children born in Lebanon.
Human rights lawyers told the organizations that these women would be able to get a series of year-long residency permits without charge for children born in Lebanon up to age four. Once the child enrolled in school at age four, the mother could apply to extend residency to the child provided that she remained lawfully in Lebanon and produced necessary documents verifying school enrollment.
However, General Security’s website now states that the residency of children studying in Lebanon whose parents are classified as Category 3 or 4 workers are subject to a case-by-case decision by General Security. The website does not indicate upon what grounds the decision will be made. This decision, which appears to expel migrant workers with children on the grounds that they have started a family in Lebanon, contravenes Lebanon’s international human rights obligations under the human rights treaties to which it is party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Lebanon’s obligations under CERD, including to non-citizens in its territory, requires it to avoid “disproportionate interference with the right to family life.” Similarly, Lebanon is obligated to uphold its obligations under article 23 of the ICCPR which reaffirms the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family. The new directive and its implementation result in disproportionate interference in family life, in particular the separation of families through expulsion.
Children have a right to, as far as possible, to be cared for by their parents, and the right to family relations without unlawful and disproportionate interference. The CRC requires countries to “ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when … such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.”
In any proceeding that could lead to the separation of children from their parents, all interested parties must be given an opportunity to participate and make their views known, and any separation must be subject to judicial review. The CRC also calls on countries to deal with questions of parents or children entering a country for the purposes of family unity “in a positive, humane, and expeditious manner.” Lebanon is required under the CRC to secure the rights to all children within its jurisdiction without “discrimination of any kind.”
The Lebanese government should comply with its international obligations by ensuring that General Security considers the family interests involved before rejecting the renewal of residency for workers or their children or considering their expulsion. The government should also ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families to safeguard the rights of migrants in Lebanon.
“Family life is just as important to Lebanon’s migrant workers as to anyone else in Lebanon,” Houry said. “General Security should reverse this directive and preserve the right to family life for Lebanon’s migrant workers.”
Migrant children need protection, not detention
The American public became aware of tens of thousands of Central American children at the US-Mexico border after photos of kids jammed into overcrowded detention centers went viral. With fits and starts, the US has made some headway in moving most of these children into foster care and other appropriate accommodations while the courts sort out whether they should be allowed to stay or be sent home.
But tens of thousands of other children throughout the world languish for years in jail-like detention centers as processing of their asylum claims stagnates. Authorities often play a waiting game in the hopes that the detainees will give up and pay for their own plane tickets home.
One such child, 10-year-old Bhavani spent a fifth of her life in Bangkok’s Immigration Detention Center. The girl’s family had fled Sri Lanka and sought refuge in Thailand. But Thailand’s immigration laws do not grant asylum seekers legal status or adequate protection, and the government instead held the family in an immigration lock-up for two years.
During a decade of research on the practice of the immigration detention of children like Bhavani globally, we have documented a multitude of human rights violations and conditions that fall far short of international standards.
Bhavani, who was ultimately recognized as a refugee by the United Nations refugee agency, is the youngest of six children, all of whom were living in Bangkok with their parents. Early one morning, while her mother and brother were not home, immigration police raided their apartment and took her father and the remaining children to Suan Phlu detention center. At Suan Phlu the police separated the girls from their father and held them in separate cells. When Bhavani’s mother learned of the arrest, she voluntarily turned herself in to immigration authorities so she could at least try to provide some protection for her girls.
Each year, Thailand detains thousands of children in dismal immigration facilities and police lock-ups across the country. Children are held in cells with adults who are strangers, denied access to adequate medical services and education, and abused and mistreated by police, guards, and other detainees.
The conditions in these detention centers and police lock-ups are often degrading and inhumane. Bhavani’s 12-year-old sister described people “sleeping all on top of each other, so crowded even right up to the toilet … at some point we couldn’t sit.” Unsanitary conditions give way to physical ailments. Crammed in their tiny, smoke-filled cell, her mother told us, Bhavani developed a rash all over her body.
The practice of immigration detention is a growing phenomenon. While countries have the right to control their borders, the default to detention leaves children vulnerable.
Children held in detention, particularly for long periods with no release in sight, suffer lasting consequences, physically and mentally. Detention can create new traumas or exacerbate previous ones.
In February 2013, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child called on all countries to“completely cease the detention of children on the basis of their immigration status.” And when children are detained, the conditions must meet international standards.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child—the international treaty that protects the fundamental rights of children, guided by the “best interests of the child” principle—states that all children have a right to family unity. In Bhavani’s case, the family could only meet when a charity group visited the detention center and asked to meet with the whole family—at best only once, maybe twice, a month. For the girl’s family, this was the only semblance of unity that they could preserve under the circumstances.
For all her suffering, Bhavani was very fortunate—her family was among the relatively few refugees worldwide accepted for resettlement. They are now in the United States. Her mother still worries about the 20 or so other children detained with them, saying that “their education, their health, their future is spoiled.”
The family’s story is not unique. Today there are over 50 million people who have been forced to flee their homes to go abroad, a record high since World War II. And over half the world’s refugees are children.
The bare, brutal existence found in many immigration detention centers around the world is not in the best interest of any child. Countries around the world should stop detaining children in immigration lock-ups, and should pursue alternatives, such as open family shelters and foster care for unaccompanied children. They should be working to create a feeling of normality for children whose lives have been uprooted, children like Bhavani.