COPENHAGEN, 1 February 2017 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights and humanitarian committee Chair Ignacio Sanchez Amor today expressed concerns about United States President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt the entry of refugees and the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries into the United States, noting that this represents a major step backward in the international community’s efforts to develop a cohesive response to the refugee and migrant crisis.
“As a nation founded largely by refugees, the United States has long been a beacon to persecuted and oppressed people around the world,” Sanchez Amor said. “In the aftermath of this concerning decision, the world will be watching closely to see if it lives up to these principles and its international obligations.”
Sanchez Amor, a member of the Spanish parliament, noted that the travel ban potentially undermines international efforts to counter violent extremism.
“Fears of terrorism do not justify blanket suspicion against people of a certain national origin or of a particular religious faith,” Sanchez Amor said. “Indeed, effective counter-terrorism measures require real international co-operation based on mutual trust and respect, which is undermined when countries impose broad and unwarranted restrictions on the citizens of other countries.”
He pointed out that the travel ban is contrary to the spirit of the OSCE’s founding document, which the United States signed along with 34 other countries of North America, Europe and Eurasia in 1975.
“To the extent that this travel ban may affect those with dual nationalities or residents of OSCE countries, I note that it may contravene the 1975 Helsinki Final Act’s stipulation that signatories should ease regulations concerning movement of citizens within the OSCE area,” he said.
Sanchez Amor also pointed to the potential effects on refugees as a major concern: “On humanitarian grounds the United States cannot send refugees back to countries where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is the core principle of non-refoulement that is at the heart of the 1951 Refugee Convention, and is now a widely accepted norm.”
In July 2016, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted a Declaration that stresses the importance of prioritizing the rights of those fleeing violence, and urges governments to stop imposing legal and physical barriers to the movement of people fleeing violence and to actively work toward an inclusive approach to migrants and refugees.