No place in our world for child suffering

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When we thought Donald Trump could not get any lower, he has not gone out of his way to shock and outrage the world by his disgraceful, immoral and inhumane treatment of very vulnerable children under the guise of his zero tolerance policy.

He has allowed thousands of children to suffer greatly, hiding behind the closing of loopholes in immigration, yet it is absolute fact that no law actually requires that families be separated at the border in the USA.

It is fact that President Trump had ordered that his zero tolerance policy must result in ‘unlawful immigrants’ being taken into federal criminal custody, at which point their children, he asserted were, to be considered ‘unaccompanied alien minors’ and forcibly torn from them and thrown wailing into cages.

His recent ‘executive order’ U-turn is not all it seems either, as children will remain in effect, imprisoned with their parents in line with the 1997 federal requirements.

Even this, he wanted to overturn to enforce indefinite detention upon them rather than the 20 days maximum. Not all children will be returned either to their parents, as they may be sent off to families being asked to ‘sponsor them’.

At the same time, President Trump and his administration have had the blatant cheek to send their Ambassador to the United Nations.

Nikki Haley, in a clear act of hypocrisy, has announced that the United States is withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, condemning other nations’ records on human rights, despite what the USA is doing.

This action yet again demonstrates President Trump’s propensity for ‘throwing his dolly out of the pram’ if he doesn’t get his own way or if any other nation or grouping of nations call him out for the Human Rights abuses he and his administration are perpetrating in their own backyard.

To add to this, the USA claims that the Human Rights Council continues politicising scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in its ranks.

Yet, the USA held such views for decades, even under the Trump administration and have only now chosen to withdraw now the global spotlight on human rights abuses has turned towards them.

While it has to be acknowledged that human rights abuses have been occurring in many other nations, the USA should not be trying to do exactly what they are claiming others are doing by seeking to distract from the abuses originated and instructed from within their own ranks, claiming that they somehow are morally head and shoulders above other nations.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) makes it explicitly clear that no child should be getting treated as these poor children are being treated.

The USA as a signatory to this convention fully knows this, and nor should our Prime Minister be merely stating in Question Time that the images of the tortured children are distressing to see.

The UK, as a signatory, needs to take action to compel President Trump and his administration to cease and desist with the abuse of these children, as the abuse has not gone away, merely by President Trump flashing around his ‘executive order’.

A close alliance with the USA should mean that the UK is best placed to enhance being a critical friend to the USA in this instance and very importantly it will demonstrate that the UK puts the rights and protections of the children above everything else.

Patrick Meleady

Sheffield, S8