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Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers opens thirty-second session remotely

Meeting Summaries

 

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families this afternoon opened its thirty-second session, hearing statements by a representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Chair and members of the Committee, and civil society on the situation of migrant workers in Chile, whose report will be reviewed this week.

Opening the meeting, Can Ünver, Committee Chairperson, welcoming all participants, said this was the first session of the Committee that was being held remotely.

At his invitation, the Committee observed a minute of silence to honour the memory of Christof Heyns, Expert of the Human Rights Committee, who passed away on 28 March, in South Africa.

Mahamane Cissé-Gouro, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, saluted the Committee’s decision to hold, on an exceptional basis, a virtual constructive dialogue with Chile, and thanked the Government of Chile for having agreed to this online review of its second periodic report. Noting that the Committee, along with other actors, had issued a Guidance Note on equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for migrants, Mr. Cissé-Gouro said this initiative represented a formidable example of cooperation of international and regional human rights mechanisms.

The Committee then heard statements by non-governmental organizations from Chile.

Civil society representatives from Chile said the State was practising collective expulsions and failing to uphold the principle of non-refoulement. Expulsions were decided by police units, and the decisions were not subject to judicial review. It was counterproductive that the new Migration and Foreigners Law did not include an ordinary regularisation mechanism and the State should avoid requesting documents that individuals would not be able to obtain because of the situation in their countries of origin. Expressing concerns about the spread of hate speech, civil society representatives said Chile should ensure the validity of the principle of equality and non-discrimination in access to social security.

Committee Members asked if those spreading hate speech had been punished and inquired about the situation of children born to migrant parents.

Speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Legal Clinic for Migrants and Refugees from the University of Diego Portales; Jesuit Services Foundation for Migrants; Citizen Observatory/Observatorio Ciudano; Red Nacional de Organizaciones Migrantes y Promigrantes; Corporación Humanas; and Movimiento de Acción Migrantes.

The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 7 April at 4 p.m. to start its consideration of the second periodic report of Chile (CMW/C/CHL/2).

Opening Statements

MAHAMANE CISSÉ-GOURO, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcoming the seven new members who had joined the Committee in January 2020, stressed that gender parity was a key objective of the United Nations system and it was hoped that in the future States parties would achieve this collective commitment by nominating more female candidates for membership of the treaty body committees. He saluted the Committee’s decision to hold, on an exceptional basis, a virtual constructive dialogue with Chile, and thanked the Government of Chile for having agreed to this online review of its second periodic report. Noting that the Committee, along with other actors, had issued a Guidance Note on equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for migrants, Mr. Cissé-Gouro said this initiative represented a formidable example of cooperation of international and regional human rights mechanisms.

This Guidance Note followed another Guidance Note with a broader scope on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the human rights of migrants in general, which had been developed with foresight and published by the Committee and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in May 2020. On 24 and 30 March, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the High Commissioner for Refugees had agreed respectively to participate through video message, alongside a number of celebrities and other United Nations principals, in the promotion campaign for the 23 guidelines contained in the two Guidance Notes. In the meantime, the Director General of International Organization for Migration had also been approached to support the same promotion campaign.

Regional reviews of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration were well underway. As a member of the Executive Committee of the United Nations Migration Network, the Office supported States and stakeholders in the successful conclusion of reviews from a human rights perspective. The Committee would have the opportunity to discuss this process in a meeting with the Office’s migration team during this session, in addition to a discussion with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. Expressing hope that the Global Compact process would increase the number of States parties to the Convention, Mr. Cissé-Gouro noted that Fiji in 2019 and Togo in 2020 had been the last States to ratify it. He encouraged Committee Experts to continue their active engagement with the United Nations Migration Network to achieve this goal.

CAN ÜNVER, Committee Chairperson, welcoming all participants, said this was the first session of the Committee that was being held remotely.

At his invitation, the Committee observed a minute of silence to honour the memory of Christof Heyns, Expert of the Human Rights Committee, who passed away on 28 March, in South Africa.

Adoption of the Agenda

The Committee then adopted the agenda and organization of work for the thirty-second session.

Statements by Non-Governmental Organizations from Chile

Legal Clinic for Migrants and Refugees from the University of Diego Portales said Chile was using expulsion policies in the context of the “Getting Your House in Order” plan that lacked individualised analysis: Chile was not considering the background of individuals, notably that of Venezuelans. It was very clear that this amounted to collective expulsions. The Committee should consider this matter closely during the discussion with Chile. Further, the Government was not upholding the principle of non-refoulement. As a result, people were sent back without proper consideration of the situation in their country.

Jesuit Services Foundation for Migrants, addressing compliance with article 44 of the Convention, said expulsions were decided by police units and did not always take into account the declarations made by migrants. Further, at no point did the authorities say what articles of law their decisions were based on; migrants were not informed of these decisions; and the decisions were not subject to judicial review. The fundamental rights of migrants were thus violated, including those of boys, girls and adolescents whose parents were affected by these policies.

Citizen Observatory/Observatorio Ciudano said it was counterproductive that the new Migration and Foreigners Law did not include an ordinary regularisation mechanism that was adequate for people who already had social and labour roots in Chile. Marking a clear setback with regards to the previous regulation scheme, the recently approved regulations restricted the possibility of changes of migratory category within the country, which made access to migratory status regularisation difficult. This went against regional migratory policies whose objective was to promote regularisation.

Red Nacional de Organizaciones Migrantes y Promigrantes said the State should adopt administrative procedures in an inclusive and effective way, and ensure multiple access routes to their completion; simplify procedures; and eliminate all requirements not stipulated in the laws that made it difficult to access regularisation. Likewise, the State should avoid requesting documents that individuals would not be able to obtain because of the situation in their countries of origin. Chile should avoid adopting emergency measures, such as those related to the pandemic, to impose migration control measures in a manner that violated the human rights of people on the move and the international instruments that guaranteed them.

Corporación Humanas said the spread of hate speech through calls for "anti-immigrant marches" had increased the number of demonstrations that incited violence. And yet, the authorities had neither contained nor condemned the actions of these groups. It was essential to criminalise incitement to hatred and to implement policies and programmes to prevent discrimination, violence and hatred towards different groups of people, including migrants. Migrant families lived in critically overcrowded conditions, and, despite the health crisis, evictions had continued. In 2018, specific visas had been imposed on the Haitian population and return flights were organised that prioritised them, without there being a basis for differentiated treatment.

Movimiento de Acción Migrantes said the State should ensure the validity of the principle of equality and non-discrimination in access to social security and, therefore, eliminate all types of restrictions with respect to non-nationals that were not justified and proportional. Likewise, the State should give guarantees of due process in all evictions, including the right to a reasoned decision, to legal representation, to appeal, and to a reasonable time to appeal.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked about violence against migrants and requested additional information on incitement to hatred against migrants. Had those responsible been punished?

Another Expert inquired about the situation of children born to migrant parents, and the conditions for the suspension of deportation.

Responses by Non-governmental Organizations

A non-governmental organization said irregular arrival was criminalised in Chile and enabled regional authorities to introduce a complaint in the domestic system, which could impose an expulsion. The tendency was to go through the entire process in a single day; procedural guarantees could not be upheld in such a short period of time. The complaint should trigger a legal process while the administrative process moved forward in parallel. However, that was not the case.

Another non-governmental organization, turning to children of people on the move, confirmed that some of them were not granted Chilean nationality, and their number had been increasing. Work was being done on this issue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. An issue was that some of these parents were officially considered as tourists, even though they had not gone to Chile to visit the country but rather as migrants. Their tourist status interfered with the granting of Chilean nationality to their children.

 

CMW21.001E