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EU border management: UN expert launches one-year study to assess migrants’ rights. First stop, Brussels

GENEVA (3 May 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, will undertake a one-year comprehensive study to examine the rights of migrants in the Euro-Mediterranean region, focusing in particular on the management of the external borders of the European Union. First stop: Brussels, from 7 to 9 May 2012.

“Coupled with the development of the Schengen Agreement, and the strong political discourse surrounding migration in Europe, the purpose of this study is to examine these mechanisms and approaches from a human rights perspective, looking at the impact of policy developments made in Brussels on those migrants who find themselves at border crossings,” Mr. Crépeau said.

The study will include an examination of the EU directives and national policies in place with respect to visa regimes and border control. It will also assess management policies and practices, interception practices including on land and at sea, detention regimes and conditions, returns and readmission.

“Although migration to and from the European region is not a new phenomenon, since the 1990s the region has witnessed a sharp increase in migration movements,” noted the independent expert, reiterating his call* to the international community “to embrace a new, balanced discourse on migration based on equal rights, non-discrimination and dignity, as well as on reality.”

The Special Rapporteur will visit Brussels next week (Monday 7 – Wednesday 9 May), in the first stage of a year-long project, during which he plans to visit two key transit countries, Turkey and Tunisia; and then two of the main entry points into the EU, Greece and Italy.

During his three-day mission to the European capital, Mr. Crépeau will meet with a range of EU officials to discuss the various policies, agencies and laws involved in the management of the EU’s external borders, in particular focusing on the Euro-Mediterranean region. He will also meet with civil society organizations.

In each of the countries, the UN Human Rights Council envoy will request to visit reception centres, shelters and other accommodation for migrants, and border points. He will also meet with relevant national authorities responsible for border control and migration, as well as civil society organisations.

The project launched by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants will culminate in a thematic report which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013.

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 and is scientific director of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. Learn more, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/migration/rapporteur/index.htm

(*) Address by the Special Rapporteur to the UN General Assembly (21 October 2011): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11523&LangID=E

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 and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva (before the visit): Jacqui Zalcberg (+41 22 917 9271 / jzalcberg@ohchr.org) or write to migrant@ohchr.org
In Brussels (during the visit): Paul d'Auchamp (+32 2 27 401 72 / pdauchamp@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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