Wednesday 14 November 2018

Trump plans to pull US out of UN human rights council

People protest at the separation of children from their parents in front of the El Paso Processing Centre, an immigration detention facility, at the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Getty Images
People protest at the separation of children from their parents in front of the El Paso Processing Centre, an immigration detention facility, at the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Getty Images

Nick Allen

The United States was last night expected to pull out of the United Nations human rights council, which it has accused of anti-Israel bias.

Any suspension or withdrawal would be the latest US rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal.

President Donald Trump, King Felipe VI of Spain, Melania Trump and Queen Letizia of Spain at the White House yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
President Donald Trump, King Felipe VI of Spain, Melania Trump and Queen Letizia of Spain at the White House yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, were due to address the Geneva-based organisation yesterday.

Ms Haley announced last year that the US was reviewing its membership of the 47-country body.

It would be the first time that a sitting member had volunteered to step aside. Libya was suspended in 2011 after a government crackdown on unarmed protesters. Washington joined the Geneva-based forum after Barack Obama became president in 2009.

The council has passed more than 70 resolutions critical of Israel, 10 times as often as it has criticised Iran.

The US move came as Donald Trump achieved his highest job rating since the first week of his presidency. For the first time since January 2017, he recorded an approval figure of 45pc in a weekly Gallup poll.

The poll reflected a strengthening economy, falling unemployment, and the summit with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in Singapore.

It was unclear how much it had been affected by a growing furore over a new "zero tolerance" policy of detaining and prosecuting illegal immigrant parents, and holding their children in separate centres.

A separate Quinnipiac poll showed 66pc of Americans opposed the policy, although 55pc of Republicans supported it.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN human rights chief, has criticised the policy, calling it "unconscionable".

In the past, illegal immigrant families were "caught and released" while they awaited proceedings.

However, over a six-week period more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents, and photographs have emerged of minors being held in wire mesh cages.

In a secretly recorded tape of Central American children at a detention centre in Texas, they could be heard crying and pleading for their parents as a guard joked: "We have an orchestra here."

Mr Trump yesterday said America was being "infested" by illegal immigrants and members of the MS-13 gang, and blamed Democrats for the crisis.

Jeff Sessions, the US attorney general, dismissed comparisons to Nazi concentration camps, telling Fox News: "It's a real exaggeration, of course. In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country."

There was condemnation from all four living US former first ladies, and a host of senior Republicans including Senator John McCain.

Ted Cruz, the conservative Republican senator from Texas, said he was "horrified", adding that he was introducing a bill in Congress to allow illegal immigrant families to stay together. Mr Trump was last night meeting with Republicans in Congress to discuss potential immigration bills.

Before the meeting, the president said: "We want to solve this problem. I don't want children taken away from their parents. When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away."

He said there were only two choices, which were "totally open borders or criminal prosecution".

Mr Trump said he was asking Congress for a "third option".

"Now is the best opportunity ever for Congress to change the ridiculous and obsolete laws on immigration," Mr Trump said in a tweet.

"Get it done, always keeping in mind that we must have strong border security."

The message came as Mr Trump was scheduled to visit Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill to lobby them on immigration legislation that would provide billions of dollars for his long-sought border wall and other security priorities.

© Daily Telegraph London

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