UNITED NATIONS - A United Nations rights expert has called for a thorough investigation into the death of a Guatemalan migrant child, while she was in the custody of United States immigration authorities.

According to the UN human rights office (OHCHR), although there have been different versions on the sequence of events which led to her death, and the overall health status of seven-year-old Jakelin Ameí Caal, it is not disputed that she died while in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection, after crossing from Mexico, with her father and a larger group of migrants.

“The US authorities must ensure that an in-depth, independent investigation of the death of Jakelin is conducted,” Felipe Gonzalez Morales, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants said, while stressing that her relatives should be granted access to justice, including legal representation.

“Redress to her family should be provided and if any officials are found responsible they should be held accountable. The government should also address failings within the immigration system, and specifically within the US Customs and Border Patrol agency, to prevent similar situations,” he added.

The UN rights expert also called on the US to stop the detention of children, either unaccompanied or with their families, based on their migratory status, and seek alternatives to detention.

“As repeatedly stated by a series of UN human rights bodies, detention of children based on their migratory status is a violation of international law,” Gonzalez Morales said.

Detention is detrimental to the well-being of a child, produces long-term severe adverse impacts on children and cannot be considered in their best interests, he explained, noting that it also exacerbates the trauma that many migrant children suffer along their journeys and that detention of migrant children can never be used to deter migration.

Gonzalez Morales also reiterated his willingness to conduct an official visit to the US and expressed hope to engage in a constructive dialogue on a range of issues concerning migration. “Conducting an official visit to the country would allow me to get first-hand, direct information about the situation of migrant children, especially on those who are being held in detention,” the expert said.

“It would also allow me to present my recommendations to the US Government to fulfil its international commitments to respect and protect the human rights of all migrants”.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary, and the experts are not paid for their work.

UN ceasefire monitoring chief tours Yemeni port of Hudaydah

The head of United Nations (UN) team which is monitoring and helping implement a ground-breaking ceasefire across Yemen’s crucial port city of Hudaydah, had his first face-to-face meeting with authorities there on Monday.

Retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert and his advance team, also undertook a familiarization visit to the Port itself, where close to 80 percent of life-saving humanitarian aid, food and commercial goods arrive before being distributed. The UN Spokesperson’s Office said that the team took note of the “current boundaries and related access roads, particularly eastern and southern access roads into and out of the city”.

Houthi opposition fighters have control of the centre of Hudaydah and the port, and an offensive launched by the internationally-recognized government and their allies last June, to take the port, threatened the lives of around 300,000 children trapped in the city, and a humanitarian disaster, said the UN.

Historic consultations convened in Sweden by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths earlier in December resulted in a Security Council resolution last Friday, endorsing a deal to continue peace talks in January, and a fragile ceasefire that has held since last Tuesday.

According to the UN, General Cammaert’s team were also encouraged on Monday by the presence of returning internally-displaced civilians who had fled the city before the ceasefire agreement. The presence of returning IDP’s in the city was an encouraging sign of the ceasefire’s positive effects  which appears to be holding, since it entered into force on Dec 18. The team arrived in Hudaydah on Sunday, and prior to their arrival, the General met with Houthi members who will be working as part of the team, formally known as the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), in the capital, Sana’a.In a note to correspondents at UN Headquarters in New York, the UN Spokesman’s office said that General Cammaert had been reassured of their commitment to the implementation of Stockholm agreement, adding that he was encouraged by the general enthusiasm of both sides to get to work, immediately.

The first joint RCC meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.