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UN rights expert urges US to halt child separation under new immigration policy

[JURIST] In a press briefing [text] Tuesday, Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the US to halt its recently mandated practice of detaining and separating those immigrating illegally, including those with children, known as the "zero tolerance policy" recently put in place along the US southern border.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last month [NPR report] a zero tolerance policy against illegal immigration, including the separation of children and parents or guardians for prosecution.

Shamdasani said that family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles, and is of great concern that in the US migration control appears to have been prioritized over the effective care and protection of migrant children.

"The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life," Shamdasani said. "Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents' migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation."

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