U.N. rights chief urges Europe to expand migration channels

U.N. rights chief urges Europe to expand migration channels

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – The top United Nations human rights official urged Europe on Monday to build on a surge of sympathy for refugees by setting up comprehensive policies to expand migration channels.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, in a speech opening the U.N. Human Rights Council, called for a halt to detention & "ill-treatment" of asylum seekers, especially children, who are fleeing war & persecution in countries including Syria.

"We need expanded channels of regular migration & resettlement – two measures which would prevent deaths & cut smuggling," Zeid told the 47-member state forum in Geneva.

European states should "build on this surge of human feeling" caused by the photograph of the dead Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a shore in Turkey 10 days ago as the family tried to reach Greece, he said.

Germany re-imposed border controls on Sunday after Europe's most powerful nation acknowledged it could scarcely cope with thousands of asylum seekers arriving every day.

Divided European Union justice & home affairs ministers were due to meet on Monday to discuss the migrant crisis.

Zeid, in a rare criticism of world powers, voiced concern at efforts by governments including China & Russia to silence critics. He criticised China's detention & interrogation of more than 100 lawyers in recent months & the "stigmatisation" of foreign-funded activist groups under a new Russian law.

He welcome Iran's deal with major powers to curb its nuclear programme, adding: "I urge Iran to make commensurate progress in human rights."

"Accelerated use of the death penalty, concerns approximately the right to a fair trial, & the continued detention of journalists, bloggers & human rights defenders remain a major cause for concern," Zeid said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Source: “Reuters”