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Migrants, much more than simply agents for economic development – Key UN expert group

GENEVA (2 October 2013) – “Migrants are human beings with human rights, not simply agents for economic development,” the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system said on the eve of a crucial discussion on international migration and development, convened by the UN General Assembly in New York on 3 and 4 October 2013.

In an open letter* to UN member States, the group of international human rights experts urged world governments and intergovernmental organisations to adopt a migrant-centred approach during the upcoming High-level Dialogue and beyond.

“Migration is in essence a fundamental human phenomenon, so it is essential for discussions on international migration to be focused on human rights,” human rights expert Chaloka Beyani said on behalf the group of 72 independent experts charged by the UN Human Rights Council to address specific country situations and thematic issues in all parts of the world.

Mr. Beyani called on States to discuss, among others, key issues like the decriminalization of irregular entry and stay; the move away from detention as a tool in addressing irregular migration, and the development of alternatives to detention; how to combat xenophobia and xenophobic violence against migrants; and the rights of migrant children, both in countries of transit and destination.

“Migrants continue to suffer abuse, exploitation and violence despite the legal human rights framework in place, which protects migrants as human beings, regardless of their administrative status or situation,” added the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crépeau, who will attend the event. “Human Rights must therefore be at the centre of discussions at the High-level Dialogue.”

“While welcoming the fact that the High-level Dialogue will have a roundtable specifically dedicated to measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of all migrants, we urge stakeholders to integrate human rights in all the other discussions at the High-level dialogue,” Mr. Crépeau said.

The rights expert also urged all UN Member States “to use this opportunity to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, as one of the core human rights instruments and an important tool to further promote and protect the human rights of migrants.”

“Special procedures” is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Currently, there are 36 thematic mandates and 12 mandates related to countries and territories, with 72 mandate holders. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides these mechanisms with support for the fulfilment of their mandates.

(*) Read the Open Letter of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures on behalf of mandate holders of the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13814&LangID=E

Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

Thematic mandates: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Themes.aspx

Country mandates: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Countries.aspx

Read the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CMW.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Jacqui Zalcberg (+41 22 917 9271 / jzalcberg@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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