Jeddah 29th January 2017: The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) joins the international community and human rights organizations in expressing strong concerns over the deeply divisive Executive Order of the U.S President to stop the admission of refugees, and to bar entry into the United States from seven Muslim majority countries and to place restrictive travel conditions based on nationality, religion and origin under the garb of prohibiting ‘radical Islamic terrorists’ from entering the country. Also, it is disturbingly noted that once the United States Administration resumes the intake of refugees in future, Christians “on the basis of religious based persecutions” would receive priority.
The principle of non-refoulement is a key facet of international refugee law that concerns the protection of refugees from being returned or expelled to places where their lives or freedoms are threatened. It is a well-established principle of customary law as well as that of international human rights and humanitarian laws. The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, Article 22(7) of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 27 of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man also provide ample guidance on the subject. Accordingly, all law abiding and peace loving countries, including the United States, are expected to welcome refugees fleeing war, oppression and persecution to guarantee their right to life, security and protection without any distinction based on race, religion, ethnicity and origin.
IPHRC asserted that such discriminatory immigration policies that directly or indirectly exclude Muslims, place them in a disadvantageous situation vis-à-vis other people or subjects them to profiling measures leading to special stop, extreme vetting and search surveillance, based on their religion, violate their fundamental human rights and are, therefore, illegal. IPHRC also observed that such measures have proved counterproductive as these neither achieve the intended national security goals nor promote the spirit of multiculturalism or social harmony, which are fundamental to promoting peaceful coexistence. Indeed such policies feed the extremists’ narrative on all sides and widens the gulf of ignorance and misunderstanding.
The Commission takes consolation in the joint United Nations High Commission for Refugees and International Organization for Migration statement underlining that “refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.” While also taking note of the positive step taken by one of the US Courts by blocking the Presidential Executive Order, that would provide temporary relief to the affected, the Commission urged the U.S Government to refrain from such discriminatory acts and to take into account the sensitivities of the law abiding, hardworking and well integrated Muslim community over the immigration procedures to protect their dignity and honor. The Commission also calls on the United States, which takes prides in being a country of immigrants and champions the cause of human rights and rule of law around the world would continue to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities towards migrants and refugees in accordance with the provisions of relevant international treaties and conventions.