US needs better leadership to meet challenges: UN

US needs better leadership to meet challenges: UN
United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. (AFP file photo)
Updated 08 March 2017

US needs better leadership to meet challenges: UN

US needs better leadership to meet challenges: UN

GENEVA: The UN human rights chief took aim at US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying the country needed better leadership to meet grave challenges like surging xenophobia and religious discrimination.
“I am concerned by the new administration’s handling of a number of human rights issues,” Zeid Al-Hussein told the main annual session of the UN rights council, in his latest swipe at the new US leader.
“Greater and more consistent leadership is needed to address the recent surge in discrimination, anti-Semitism, and violence against ethnic and religious minorities,” he added.
Al-Hussein warned that Washington’s “vilification of entire groups such as Mexicans and Muslims” as well as “false claims” about higher crime rates among migrants “fuel xenophobic abuses.”
Taking direct aim at Trump personally, Al-Hussein said he was “dismayed at attempts by the president to intimidate or undermine journalists and judges.”
He voiced concern at the new US policy banning entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, announced on Monday after Trump’s controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts.
Al-Hussein had been the first top UN figure to speak out against Trump’s initial travel ban and on Wednesday blasted a revised executive order that bars entry of people from Muslim countries. The measure raised the risk of potentially illegal deportations, the rights chief noted.
“Expedited deportations could amount to collective expulsions and refoulement, in breach of international law,” Zeid said, stressing his concern about its impact on children and “families torn apart,” referring to the UN Refugee Convention that prohibits sending back people who are fleeing war, violence or persecution.
The revised policies would greatly increase the number of migrants at immediate risk of deportation, regardless of the number of years spent in the US or family roots, Zeid said.