Protect the human rights of Central American migrants, UN expert committees urge States
26 October 2018
GENEVA (26 October 2018) — States of transit and destination have an obligation to protect the human rights of Central American migrants regardless of their migration status, said two UN expert committees on human rights.
The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW), together with the Committee on the Rights of the Child, express serious concern about Central American migrants fleeing severe human rights violations in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which are plagued by poverty and violence.
During the last few days, thousands of men, women and children, including unaccompanied children, are trekking north through Mexico toward the United States in search of opportunity and safety. En route, they may fall victim to extortion by unscrupulous security officials and criminal smuggling gangs as well as the threat of robbery, sexual violence, and even death.
The Committees call on the migrants’ states of origin to address the severe human rights violations at home (which are drivers of irregular migration) and to fully implement their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Protection of the Human Rights of All Migrant workers and Members of Their Families. The Committees also call on the countries of transit and destination to respect human rights obligations at all border crossings, including the right to due process for all migrants regardless of status. States must respect the principle of non-refoulement as well as the prohibition on arbitrary and collective expulsion, and non-detention for migration related offences, emphasized the Chair of CMW, Mr. Ahmadou Tall. Women, children and other groups might be particularly vulnerable, underscored Mr. Tall, who urged States to ensure that internal border management centres and processes are safe, culturally appropriate and age- and gender-responsive.
The rights of child migrants had to be at the forefront of any migration response, said Renate Winter, Chair of the Child Rights Committee, adding that the key principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be the guiding principles of any migration policy regarding children. Those principles included non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to life, maximum survival and development, and the right to be heard and participate.
The two Committees’ joint general comments (No. 4 (2017) CMW/No. 23 (2017) CRC and No. 3 (2017) CMW/No. 22 (2017) CRC) on children in situations of international migration provide authoritative guidance to States on how to address the multiple and intersecting forms of human rights violations faced by children in the context of international migration, they noted. Both called on States in the region to implement those guidelines in line with their obligations under the international human rights treaty framework, as well as in light of the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration in December 2018.