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Deadly practice of migrant ‘pushbacks’ must cease - UN Special Rapporteur

23 June 2021

Read the Spanish version on the OHCHR-Guatemala website

GENEVA (23 June 2021) – States must immediately cease the cruel and deadly practice of pushing back migrants, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants said today, demanding governments abide by international law which prohibits collective expulsions and refoulement to a country where a migrant may face death, torture, ill-treatment, persecution, or other irreparable harm.

“In the absence of an individualized assessment for each migrant concerned and other procedural safeguards, pushbacks are a violation of the prohibition of collective expulsion and heighten the risk of further human rights violations, in particular refoulement,” Felipe González Morales, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, told the Human Rights Council.

Thousands of migrants, including asylum seekers, cross international borders seeking safety, security and a better life. Many of them have lost their lives or have been injured in their attempts to do so. The loss of life and injury at international borders has been a tragic consequence of States increasingly relying on militarization and deterrence to attempt to control migration.

“States have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of everyone on their territory or within their jurisdiction or effective control, irrespective of migration status and without discrimination of any kind,” said the expert.

“Pushback measures and practices demonstrate a denial of States’ international obligations to protect the human rights of migrants at international borders and tarnish a State’s image.”

In his report , the Special Rapporteur provides an examination of current pushback practices and trends, including militarization of border patrols, the use of force in pushback practices, refoulement and chain-refoulement risks, externalization of border governance measures, delay in search and rescue and disembarkation, and denial of access to territory.

“My mandate has received substantive information revealing worrying trends of pushbacks of migrants carried out along most migration routes,” said González Morales. “Through bilateral meetings, communications procedure and country visits, I have addressed human rights concerns relating to pushback practices in all regions of the world. I look forward to concrete actions by Member States to address this harmful phenomenon.”


Mr. Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Councils independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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