Donald Trump

Geneva: The United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday denounced as illegal and mean-spirited the United States’ visa ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

The official Twitter account for the UN Human Rights agency quoted its Chairman Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein as saying “discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law”, efe news reported.

Donald Trump’s executive order bans US visas to citizens of Muslim-majority Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Syria for a period of at least 90 days.

“The US ban is also mean-spirited, and wastes resources needed for proper counter-terrorism,” al-Hussein added.

Trump’s immigration order on Friday also saw the US suspend its refugee programme for a period of 120 days with the aim of restructuring the process to prevent visas from being issued to potential terrorists.

Visas for Syrian asylum seekers would be indefinitely put on hold, according to the presidential order.

The policy drew immediate protest from international institutions such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the international organisation for migration (IMO), which on Saturday petitioned the US government to uphold its long tradition of offering asylum to those fleeing conflict.

In a joint statement, the two agencies said they “hope that the US will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.”

UN sources estimate that since October 2016, the US has admitted 25,600 refugees.

According to the nation’s Refugee Processing Center, the US accepted 85,000 refugees in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The country is also the world’s biggest financial contributor to the UNHCR, investing roughly $1.5 billion into that institution in 2016, much more than the European Union ($341 million), Germany ($284 million) and Japan ($164 million).