09-19-2018  3:33 am      •     
(AP/Lily illustration)
Seattle Human Rights Commission
Published: 29 August 2018

As first-hand accounts surface of the mistreatment of children and parents during the enforcement of the President’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration, the Seattle Human Rights Commission is obliged to once more condemn this practice and the ensuing actions of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

We call on local, state, and federal officials to do everything in their power to ensure that the Trump administration is held accountable for the abuse, neglect, intimidation, and assault faced by any child while in detention due to the forced separation of migrant families. The mistreatment of detained children is appalling and unacceptable. Not only do these allegations violate several articles of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, but it also violates legal settlements set in place years before the President’s policy came into effect in 2018.

Furthermore, we demand that any remaining migrant children currently under the care of the U.S. government receive the absolute best treatment and that every effort possible is made to swiftly reunite them with their families. Recent reports indicate that ICE is withholding parental contact information and intentionally delaying reunification of these children with their families. It should be the responsibility and highest priority of this administration (and not of NGOs) to find the most appropriate and trustworthy caregiver that can provide each child with a safe and secure home, especially if their parent is unable to be found. Until then, children in custody must be given healthy meals, comfortable accommodations, and at all times, treated with utmost respect and acknowledgement of the varying needs of children.

It is our hope that we learn from the mistakes of the Trump administration on this matter and recognize that forced separation of child and parent is never a good practice. We can address immigration with respect and understanding of the complex factors that compel people to leave their homes and risk their lives. The Seattle Human Rights Commission will continue to hold our local, national, and federal governments accountable for any human rights violations committed while handling immigration cases.

CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

Article 9 

  1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child's place of residence. 
  1. In any proceedings pursuant to paragraph 1 of the present article, all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known. 
  1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child's best interests. 
  1. Where such separation results from any action initiated by a State Party, such as the detention, imprisonment, exile, deportation or death (including death arising from any cause while the person is in the custody of the State) of one or both parents or of the child, that State Party shall, upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate, another member of the family with the essential information concerning the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the family unless the provision of the information would be detrimental to the well-being of the child. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall of itself entail no adverse consequences for the person(s) concerned. 

Article 10 

  1. In accordance with the obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1, applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall entail no adverse consequences for the applicants and for the members of their family. 
  1. A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents. Towards that end and in accordance with the obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1, States Parties shall respect the right of the child and his or her parents to leave any country, including their own, and to enter their own country. The right to leave any country shall be subject only to such restrictions as are prescribed by law and which are necessary to protect the national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Convention. 

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