Just a few hours ago, President Donald Trump put the United States on the list of rogue nations by advocating it violate a core principle of international law that has stood for more than 67 years. He did this in a single tweet:
....Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit - we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2018
Donald Trump has been wailing about how "weak" US immigration laws are because they provide some minimal protection to migrants and allow those fleeing from violence and political repression to at least apply for political asylum. He would have loved the immigration policies of Gaddafi's Libya, which recognized no refugee status at all and fired on migrants with fatal effect for trying to enter, and even to leave Libya without state permission.In that post, I wrote:
Migrants were subjected to very long periods of imprisonment in Gaddafi's Libya. A diplomatic source in Libya told HRW that migrants could be detained “from a few weeks to 20 years.”And now Trump is asking for the power to detain immigrant families indefinitely. With big money to be made in detention contracts could we see 20 years here too?
One of the legal cornerstones of Gaddafi's immigration system was its refusal to recognize that some immigrants deserved refugee status. The Human Rights Watch 2010 report, "Rights on the Line" on migrant abuse complained:
Libya is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has no asylum law or procedure. In April, Libyan Foreign Secretary Moussa Koussa said his country “does not have any refugees but only illegal migrants who break the laws.”Brigadier General Mohamed Bashir Al Shabbani, the director of the Office of Immigration at the General People’s Committee for Public Security, told HRW:
“There are no refugees in Libya. They are people who sneak into the country illegally and they cannot be described as refugees. Anyone who enters the country without formal documents and permission is arrested.”The 2001 US State Department country report on Libya begins:
The Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya* is a dictatorship that has been ruled by Colonel Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi (the "Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution") since 1969, when he led a military coup to overthrow King Idris.It has this to say about the dictator's treatment of refugees:
While the country has acceded to the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention on refugees, the law does not include provisions for granting asylum, first asylum, or refugee status in accordance with the provisions of the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, and the Government does not grant such statusIn a 2010 United Nations General Assembly report, it also made its complaints and recommendations to Libya:
In 2005, the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR),13 CERD,14 and CRC15 recommended that the State consider ratifying the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol.And most important for our present discussion, because this is precisely what Trump is proposing for US policy:
CESCR noted that the State does not have a law on asylum-seekers and refugees. It recommended that the State adopt a law establishing national asylum procedures.24
56. HR Committee was concerned that the State sends back refugees and asylum seekers to their countries of origin where they might be subject to torture and other ill treatment. It recommended that the State adopt legislative and administrative structures to ensure that aliens claiming risk of torture or ill-treatment are allowed to file an appeal against forced removal, with suspensive effects.104In my blog post on slavery in Gaddafi's Libya, I said these are immigration policies Donald Trump would love. With one tweet this morning he jumped the shark. What he is now advocating for United States policy is the same violations of international law and human decency practise by the brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
From the UNHCR/USA website:
The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key legal document that forms the basis of our work. Ratified by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.Well, Gaddafi's Libya may not have been a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, but the United States is and Trump's tweet is a clear violation of these 67 year-old core principles of human decency and squarely places the United States among the rogue nations of the world if they become policy.
The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.
UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected.
READ THE REFUGEE CONVENTION