Joint Statement by UN Experts, the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants and the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants

    “Migrants deserve full recognition as rights holders”

    GENEVA, BANJUL, WASHINGTON D.C. (18 December 2012) – “On a day like today, we unite our voices to recognize the invaluable contributions that millions of migrants across the world make daily to create better living conditions for everyone. Even though participating in our societies, the other side of the story is that simply for being migrants, millions are victims of discrimination, xenophobia and a myriad of violations against their human rights. It is because of this that today, on International Migrants Day, we reaffirm that human rights are rights for all persons. In this sense, a real commitment by States regarding the human rights of migrants requires the full recognition of migrants as rights holders. Human rights are derived from human dignity and not from national origin or migratory status.

    In the current context, we reiterate our concern regarding the tendency of some States to criminalize irregular migration. Crossing a border without the required documentation or overstaying a visa is not per se a crime, but rather at most, an administrative offence. Measures that criminalize irregular migration include the enactment of laws that penalize migrants in an irregular situation and persons that assist migrants; the use of excessive and disproportionate force during migration control operations; the detention of migrants in an irregular situation; deportations without procedural guarantees; and also xenophobic statements in which authorities and the media encourage the stigmatization of migrants. In addition to being contrary to human rights and increasing the vulnerability of migrants, these measures have not been proven effective in deterring irregular migration.

    In this sense, we express our deep concern for the increasing use of detention of migrants by some States. This situation is of even greater concern because detention is often applied to children. Respect for the right to liberty and security of person implies that liberty is the rule and detention, the exception. States have the obligation to establish a presumption in favor of liberty in domestic law. The automatic, mandatory or punitive use of migrant detention not only violates migrants' right to liberty, but also affects others of their human rights. The exceptionality of administrative detention of migrants also applies to asylum seekers, refugees, stateless persons and other persons in need of international protection. We call on States to gradually abolish the administrative detention of migrants and establish alternative measures to detention, applying a human rights based approach.

    By celebrating International Migrants Day, we reaffirm that the protection of the human rights of migrants requires the adoption of various measures by States. In this context, we call on States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, as well as other international and regional human rights treaties. In parallel to ratifying these instruments, States should guarantee that their policies, laws and practices on migration conform to their international human rights obligations.”

    This joint statement has been subscribed on December 18, 2012, on International Migrants Day by Mr. François Crépeau, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants; Mr. Abdelhamid El Jamri, Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW); Mr. Felipe Gonzalez, Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS); Ms. Maya Sahli Fadel, Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) of the African Union (AU).

    François Crépeau (Canada) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three years. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Crépeau is also Full Professor at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, in Montréal, where he holds the Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law.

    Log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Migration/SRMigrants/Pages/SRMigrantsIndex.aspx
    For more information regarding the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, please contact: Christel Mobech (+41 22 917 9995 / cmobech@ohchr.org) or write to migrant@ohchr.org.

    Abdelhamid El Jamri (Morocco) was elected as member of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in 2004 and is Chairperson of the Committee since 2008. As a treaty body expert, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. El Jamri is also an international consultant on development project design and an international migration specialist. He is the Director of the French ‘Institut Supérieur de Formation et de Développement’ and a member of the Economic and Social Council of Morocco.

     Visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cmw/index.htm

     Check the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families:http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cmw.htm

     For more information regarding the United Nations Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, please contact: Harumi Fuentes (+41 22 917 9699 / hfuentes@ohchr.org) or write to cmw@ohchr.org.

    Felipe González (Chile) was elected as commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 2008 and reelected in 2011. Since 2008 he is the Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants. He was the IACHR Chair in 2010. Commissioner González is Professor of International Human Rights Law and Constitutional Law at Chile’s Diego Portales University. He founded and directed that university’s Human Rights Center. He also founded and coordinated a Latin American Network of Legal Human Rights Clinics. He is a Professor at the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University and a Visiting Professor at Carlos III University. Previously he has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Lund University, the University of Deusto, and the University of Alcalá de Henares. He also worked for the International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights), first in Washington, D.C., and then in Santiago, Chile.

    Visit: http://www.cidh.org/migrantes/defaultmigrants.htm

    For more information regarding the IACHR Rapporteurship on the rights of migrants, please contact:Alvaro Botero Navarro (+1 202 458 3831 / abotero@oas.org) or write to cidhmigrantes@oas.org.

    Maya Sahli Fadel (Algeria) was elected as commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) of the African Union (AU) in 2011. She was appointed as Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in 2011.
    Visit: http://www.achpr.org/mechanisms/refugees-and-internally-displaced-persons/

    For more information on the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons call to +220 441 0505 / +220 441 0506 or write to  au-banjul@africa-union.org.
    Visit: http://www.achpr.org/mechanisms/refugees-and-internally-displaced-persons/

     

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      Date: 19 December 2012

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