MEP brands US migrant detention centres 'concentration camps'

Written by Ailean Beaton on 17 July 2019 in News

The newly elected Lib Dem MEP plans to use her debut speech to criticise US treatment of asylum seekers

Sheila Ritchie. Image credit: Scottish Liberal Democrats

US immigration detention facilities on the US-Mexico border are “concentration camps” that fall short of American ideals, according to Scottish Liberal Democrat MEP Sheila Ritchie.

Ritchie made the comments ahead of her debut speech in the European Parliament, where she will lead a debate on a motion urging US President Donald Trump to end the practice of child separation and to guarantee access to food and water for detainees.

The newly elected MEP said: “The United States taught the world that Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are unalienable rights.

“These concentration camps fall far short of those lofty ideals. The US Government should end these cruel policies and begin to unite families once more.”

The debate comes after Democratic Party congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sparked controversy in June by tweeting that the US government had “established concentration camps on the border”.

Republican politicians and conservative media disputed the label, while the US Holocaust Memorial Museum rejected Cortez’s comments, saying it “unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary.”

However, an open letter in support of the comparison was signed by over 400 holocaust and genocide experts that called the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s rejection “ahistorical”.

The current US policy on asylum has been described by the UN’s high commissioner for refugees as “putting vulnerable families at risk”.

The European Parliament motion was tabled by Ritchie on behalf of the Renew Europe group. She said: “Being a part of a strong Europe allows us to speak out and stand up against human rights abuses across the world.

“While Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage cosy up to the Trump administration, Liberal Democrats will continue to speak out in defence of human rights around the world.”

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