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US Refugee Travel Ban & Human Rights

US Refugee Travel Ban & Human Rights published on

A Very Problematic Ban

The issue of banning citizens of some specific Muslim countries from entering the United States of America (USA) is very problematic indeed, not fit for purpose, and only going to be counter-productive in the long run – something we should all be concerned about.

Photo from CNN

On Friday January 27, 2017, the new President of the United States of America, Donald Trump signed an executive order banning refugees and citizens of  certain origin “roughly 218 million people  from entering the United States”; mainly those coming from Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Yemen – and still counting.

This extremely controversial Executive Order has rightly sparked nation-wide protests in the US, and received serious condemnation across the world including a statement by the UN Human Rights Chief – Zeid Ra ‘ad Al Hussein who said “Discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law” and that “the US ban is also MEAN SPIRITED, and wastes resources needed for proper counter terrorism”, and I agree with him on both points!

Photo from United Nations

I personally consider it problematic because this is a human right issue which borders on discrimination based on origin and nationality – forbidden grounds for discrimination in human rights law.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – Dec 10 1948, discrimination against any person based on his or her nationality is prohibited in article two of this all important human rights document.

Article 2 clearly states: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”

And, in article 14 of the UDHR, “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

I strongly believe that this very article two which disallows discrimination is fundamental to the protection of the human rights of all persons; and is at the heart of creating a fairer and meaningful society for everyone.

I also consider this ban very problematic because America is often at the forefront of promoting the culture of human rights in other countries, even to the extent of punishing those who don’t want to comply. How then can we reconcile this ban with their stand on human rights?

I would like to remind Mr President Donald Trump that when it comes to the agenda of human rights promotion, he cannot pick and choose which rights to promote or not.

We should rather look for  better and workable solutions to global terrorism. This one is not fit for purpose.


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