Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers Opens Thirty-fourth Session and Meets with Civil Society
The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families this morning opened its thirty-fourth session, hearing an address by Mahamane Cisse-Gouro, Director, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division Branch at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and adopting its agenda and programme of work for the session, and hearing from civil society.
Mr. Cisse-Gouro said many people on the move today fell outside legal protection of their human rights, and that each year, thousands of migrants went missing or died along migration routes. The effective participation of the United Nations human rights mechanisms in the International Migration Review Forum was important.
Three newly elected members of the Committee made a solemn declaration: Pablo Ceriani Cernadas (Argentina), Jasminka Džumhur (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Raymond Beto Zounmatoun (Benin).
The Committee then met with the national human rights institution of Cabo Verde, as well as meeting with representatives of civil society of Kyrgyzstan and Peru, whose lists of issues prior to reporting the Committee is scheduled to adopt.
The Committee is scheduled to hold elections for its new Bureau in the afternoon of Monday, 28 March. The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Wednesday March 30 to consider the second periodic report of Burkina Faso (CMW/C/BFA/2) .
MAHAMANE CISSE-GOURO, Director, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division Branch at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, congratulated the seven new members who had been elected or re-elected for a new term, noting that the number of women members had been increased. Many people on the move today fell outside legal protection of their human rights. To ensure every migrant was able to access appropriate protection of her or his rights, the situation of each person must be assessed individually. The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights had developed a set of Principles and guidelines on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations. Each year, thousands of migrants went missing or died along migration routes. States must urgently assume responsibility to prevent migrants from going missing or dying along migration routes, to search for those who had gone missing, and to assist their families. The effective participation of the United Nations human rights mechanisms in the International Migration Review Forum was important.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was committed to combating discrimination in all its forms and sought to change narratives of fear, hatred and division, including by promoting attitudinal change through the Stand Up for Migrants toolkit campaign launched in 2020. The meeting of the Chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies had been an opportunity to discuss issues, and had resulted in a proposal covering the development of a predictable review schedule, the harmonisation of working methods, and the digital transition, which the ten Committees were invited to consider. After Togo in 2020, Chad had recently ratified the Convention, bringing the number of States parties to 57. It was hoped that the partnership between the Committee and the States of the Global Compact process would lead to a further increase in the number of States partier to the Convention. After almost two years of virtual or hybrid work, the return to in-person meetings were greatly appreciated.
Three newly elected members of the Committee made a solemn declaration: Pablo Ceriani Cernadas (Argentina), Jasminka Džumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Raymond Beto Zounmatoun (Benin).
The Committee then adopted the agenda and programme of work for the session, during which it is scheduled to review the reports of Burkina Faso, Paraguay and Cabo Verde. The Committee is further scheduled to adopt lists of issues prior to reporting on Kyrgyzstan and Peru.
Statements by Civil Society and National Human Rights Institutions
Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial said Russia was a destination country for 95% of Kyrgyzstan’s migrants, asking the Committee what measures were being taken to protect migrant women from discrimination, and what was being done to bring legislation on the repatriation of children in line with international human rights standards.
Strategic Litigation Area of Promex said that situation of sexual and reproductive rights in Peru was serious and migrant workers were not afforded rights. Since the pandemic, sexual health and reproductive services had been suspended. What measures were being adopted to guarantee access to therapeutic abortions to migrant women?
Global Detention Project said issues for consideration in the report on Peru included requesting information regarding the militarisation along Peru’s borders and violent incidents, and disaggregated data on the numbers of migrants detained and deported for migration-related reasons, as well as a list of any facilities used for immigration detention purposes.
The National Human Rights Commission of Cabo Verde recognised the efforts made by the State to improve the situation of migrants in the country, including the approval of the Action Plan for Immigration and Social Inclusion of Immigrants, and the establishment of the High Immigration Authority. However, challenges persisted, including difficulty with statistical data on migration and the fact the Cape Verde did not have a specific anti-discrimination law. Regarding expulsion of foreign nationals, the monitoring of the situation was compromised as process was not followed. The process of approving a new nationality law was ongoing and it was hoped that would be approved soon. The pandemic had caused Cabo Verde to adopt restrictive measures which greatly impacted the lives of migrants, and it was important to analyse their situation. The Committee should recommend to Cabo Verde to adopt measures to ensure a strong, independent human rights institution, without leaving anyone behind.
Questions by Committee Experts
Committee Experts asked for more data about migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan in Russia in the last year. Could more information about consular assistance policies for migrants in Kyrgyzstan bs provided? How were women migrants treated differently in Peru? Were the issues mentioned in regard to sexual and reproductive health only affecting migrants, or did they affect all women? Could more information be provided about the militarisation of the border of Peru?
A Committee Expert asked for more information about the diplomatic efforts of Kyrgyzstan to provide better conditions for migrants who were under the authority of Russia? Was there a general law on gender equality law in Peru which provided for the equal treatment of men and women? Was abortion a prohibited act for all women, not just migrants? What was the position of national human rights institutions and how effective was their protection?
A Committee Expert asked about the high number of Venezuelans in Peru, asking how they had been affected by the sexual and reproductive health situation? Did they receive information, and did they have information about the social benefits and health care they could have access to? Were there any Venezuelans in detention? Were there military officers involved in detaining migrants at border posts in Peru?
A Committee Expert asked if the National Human Rights Commission of Cabo Verde had been consulted on the new bill on nationality? What was the time frame for its adoption?
Responses by Civil Society and National Human Rights Institutions
Civil society representatives explained that the total number of working migrants in Russia varied from 600,000 to more than 1 million over the past few years. In Kazakhstan there were around 30,000 migrant workers. There was ethnic profiling even in courts. As Russia was not party to the Convention, efforts on Kyrgyzstan’s side were not sufficient to protect such a huge amount of people.
In Peru, there were major challenges regarding access to sexual and reproductive health for everyone, which was exacerbated in specific conditions, including for migrant workers. The only justification for abortion was if the mother’s life was at risk, and any other situation was criminalised. Peru had national gender equality policy, however the problem was in the implementation of that policy. There was no information provided to migrants on their rights, particularity sexual and reproductive rights.
The National Human Rights Commission of Cabo Verde said human rights reports were public, and the Parliament had direct access to the information provided in reports. Complaints could come to the Commission in many different forms. A Commission member represented the border force and acted as focal point. Many migrants had been left in very difficult circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and more information was needed about how migrants had benefited from the social protection measures which had been implemented.
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