UN warns Trump's decision to detain children 'may amount to torture'


In a scathing rebuke, the U.N. Human Rights Council warned that the Trump administration may be inflicting 'irreparable harm' on children.

The United Nations has issued a scathing condemnation of the Trump administration, warning that the practice of detaining children — even if they are not separated from their parents — "may amount to torture."

In a statement released Friday, the U.N. Human Rights Council said Trump's executive order does nothing to solve the family separation crisis he created, but could very well make the situation worse.

It won't help the children who have already been forcibly separated from their parents, the council noted, and it introduces an entirely new problem by seeking to dismantle protections prohibiting the prolonged detention of immigrant children.

The executive order, which Trump signed on Wednesday, "may lead to indefinite detention of entire families in violation of international human rights standards," the council said.

"Detention of children is punitive, severely hampers their development, and in some cases may amount to torture," the U.N. declared.

The human rights body also condemned the Trump administration for using children "as a deterrent to irregular migration" — a practice the council called "unacceptable."

The U.N.'s statement of condemnation comes amid widespread outcry over the Trump administration's cruel decision to tear families apart in a twisted attempt to deter immigrants from trying to cross the border.

More than 2,300 children have been forcibly separated from their parents and detained, often in cages, since Trump's zero-tolerance border policy went into effect in mid-April.

The zero-tolerance policy criminalized immigration and mandated that all unauthorized border crossings must be prosecuted in a criminal court. As a result, parents traveling with children — including asylum-seeking families fleeing violence — were forcibly separated and thrown into detention centers to await a court date.

With their parents sent to detention facilities, children were taken into custody by the Department of Health and Human Services in an inhumane and reckless process that may make family reunification impossible in some cases due to lack of information and poor record-keeping.

There are also concerns that some families may never be reunited as children are sent to facilities in different parts of the country while their parents may have been deported.

"The separations have been conducted without notice, information, or the opportunity to challenge them," the U.N. noted in its statement. "The parents and children have been unable to communicate with each other. The parents have had no information about the whereabouts of their children, which is a cause of great distress."

"Moreover, we are deeply concerned at the long-term impact and trauma, including irreparable harm that these forcible separations will have on the children," the council said.

Experts from the U.N. noted that some of the children who've been separated from their parents have disabilities that require specialized support. Others have been ripped from the arms of their breastfeeding mothers.

Research shows that early life stressors — particularly sudden and unexpected events like forced separation from a parent — causes severe trauma to developing children. Among other things, this results in serious psychological distress and even permanent changes to the structure of the brain, causing "profound and lifelong" scars.

The U.N.'s dire warning — issued only days after the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the U.N. Human Rights Council — comes amid a flood of condemnation of the inhumane treatment of immigrant children on Trump's watch.

Psychiatrists and child welfare experts have called the practice of family separation a form of "government-sanctioned child abuse" and said the Trump administration is responsible for carrying out "violence against children."

But Trump doesn't see it this way, since he doesn't see the victims as children — in fact, he doesn't even see them as human.

And despite Trump's claim that he wants to keep families together, his executive order doesn't do that, and his administration doesn't plan to do that, either. Just a day after Trump signed the order, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen privately told lawmakers that the administration could resume the cruel practice.

Furthermore, Trump has ordered the Pentagon to start building militarized tent cities with the capacity to detain up to 119,000 people. On top of that, U.S. military bases have been told to prepare to hold as many as 20,000 child detainees.

Since taking office, Trump has said repeatedly that he wants to reinstate torture — and now, he's made good on that pledge, with the most vulnerable members of society suffering from his cruelty.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.