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UN rights chief urges Czech Republic to stop detaining migrants and refugees

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official bio] on Thursday urged [press release] the Czech Republic to stop detaining migrants and refugees in "degrading" conditions. According to Zeid, the numerous migrants and refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic since August 2015 have been subjected to human rights violations. The report outlines the violations and provides that the Czech Republic is "routinely subjecting these migrants and refugees to detention for 40 days, and reportedly sometimes even longer—up to 90 days." Zeid criticized these actions as a systematic policy to deter migrants and refugees from entering the country. The report also draws special attention to the detainment of children in similar conditions and relays the opinion [press release] of the Czech Ombudsperson Anna Šabatová [official website] that the actions violate the Convention on the Rights of the Child [text]. Zeid called for an immediate government effort to find an alternative to the detainment of migrants and refugees.

The rights of migrant populations has emerged as the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Last month Zeid gave the opening statement [JURIST report] at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis. In his statement, he commended the efforts of ordinary citizens in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the UK who have opened their homes to refugees and have galvanized politically to help with the crisis. Also in September Germany announced that it was invoking temporary border controls [JURIST report] at the nation's southern border with Austria, after thousands of immigrants entered the country. Also last month the Hungarian National Assembly passed a number of emergency measures [JURIST report] to address the recent mass migration into Europe. In August the International Organization for Migration reported that more than 2,000 migrants have died [JURIST report] this year in an attempt to enter Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.

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