Privacy International calls on the United States government to uphold its international human rights obligations

Press release

Gus Hosein, Executive Director of Privacy International:

The US federal government's cruel zero tolerance immigration policy has received widespread and international condemnation. In addition to the policy's clear moral failure it is also in violation of the government's legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which includes protecting families from unnecessary interference by the government.

The US government needs to understand that the ICCPR are not just grand words that can be disregarded. The ICCPR is ingrained in US law, and under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution it became the 'supreme law of the land'. Article 17 of the ICCPR states:

  1. "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. 
  2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

Separating families at the US border is cruel, arbitrary, deeply disproportionate, and a contravention of the ICCPR Article 17 rights of thousands of children and parents. These families have the right to protection under US law against this horrendous policy.

The US government should reflect on the fact that the ICCPR was created after World War II, to end the scourge of fascism. Those were the darkest of times, and the establishment of internationally recognised and inalienable rights charted a path out of that darkness. Like so many others, Privacy International urges the US government to re-affirm that individuals and families have rights, perhaps the most important of which is the right to be together.

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