International Law and Human Rights must be our Compass

| February 1, 2017

New York, Paris, 31 January 2017 – President Donald Trump is putting the United States out of step with international human rights principles of non-discrimination and the protection of refugees, declared FIDH today, the worldwide movement for human rights.

Let us be perfectly clear: refugees are not terrorists, they are the first victims of terror,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres back in 2007 in his then position as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.


Photo: AFP


However, 10 years later, on January 27, 2017 US President Trump signed an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” that suspends the entry of all refugees to the US, bans Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocks the entry of citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Just one week into the new US administration, President Trump has threatened to violate basic human rights, opening up the possibility of torture, new “black sites” of arbitrary detention, and a sweeping “Muslim ban.” He has signed Executive Orders which call for the construction of a border wall with Mexico in order to keep out illegal immigrants, approve the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that threatens to destroy  native lands, freeze funding for foreign aid groups that counsel patients on abortion, and suspend immigration from what he calls “terror-prone regions.” These speedy and aggressive orders signal that more discriminatory policies that can violate fundamental freedoms, civil liberties and human rights are to come.

“The President of the US, is not “protecting the nation” as his executive order prescribes. On the contrary, he is plunging the nation into a deep crisis and taking the rest of the world along with him. In these trying times, international law and  human rights must remain our compass as we move forward. FIDH and its member organizations in more than 120 countries stand in international solidarity with American citizens and human rights organizations fighting back against President Trump’s attacks on fundamental values,” said Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President.

Trump justified his Executive Order to ban refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries by invoking the attacks of September 11, 2001 as a reason to enhance the visa-issuance process to ensure that individuals do not have ties to terrorism, despite the fact that refugees and immigrants are vetted at length. It must not be mistaken that this ban is a religious classification that discriminates intentionally against Muslims, just as President Trump proposed on the campaign trail and was confirmed by his advisor Rudolph Giuliani who was tasked to come up with a legal “Muslim ban.”

Echoing the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein who stated that “The US ban is also mean-spirited and wastes resources needed for proper counter-terrorism,” FIDH fears that this ban may do more to assist terrorist recruitment than bolster security. 

On Friday January 27th, 2017, peaceful protests erupted all across America at airports as volunteer lawyers swiftly drafted habeas corpus’ for detained individuals on the floor of terminals and protesters chanted “let them in..”

As the demonstrations continued, US human rights organizations won five orders from five different district courts in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, and California that offered relief from the temporary ban.3 On January 30, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a federal lawsuit to remove the Muslim ban while 16 state attorneys have vowed to fight the Order, stating that “as the chief legal officers for over 130 million Americans and foreign residents in [their] states, [they] condemn President Trump’s unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful Executive Order.”

“As Trump consistently demonizes and harasses the free press and demonstrators,  we must remain resolute and unwavering in our commitment to human rights and we will always stand up to defend our fundamental freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly,” concluded Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President.

FIDH expresses its solidarity with those impacted by the executive orders, protesters and US Human Rights Organizations, especially its member organizations, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Center on Justice and Accountability.



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Category: English Press Release

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