Statements Treaty bodies
Greece shipwreck: UN committee dismayed by rising death toll, calls for international cooperation to prioritize safe migration pathways
21 June 2023
GENEVA (21 June 2023) – The UN Committee on Migrant Workers(CMW) called on the European Union, the African Union and the League of Arab States to work together to establish safe and regular migration routes after at least 81 migrants drowned and hundreds more went missing in one of Europe’s deadliest shipwreck.
The Committee today issued the following media statement:
“We are dismayed by the deaths and disappearance of hundreds of migrants who had intended to flee their places of origin, cross the Mediterranean Sea, and seek their legitimate human rights.
So far, 104 people have been rescued and 81 bodies have been recovered. However, hundreds are still missing and feared dead, including around 100 children, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Greek coast guard and other sources.
While all the circumstances surrounding this tragic shipwreck have yet to be determined, the Committee urges the states of origin, transit and destination, including the African Union, the League of Arab States and EU countries, to collaborate to find lasting and durable solutions to the most perilous and deadly migration routes through coordinated search and rescue, quick disembarkation and most importantly, safe and regular pathways.
We urge States to deploy all measures to protect the right to life under international human rights instruments, including the International Convention on Migrant Workers. We remind States that the duty to rescue people in distress at sea without delay is a fundamental principle of international maritime law, without any discrimination, regardless of the nationality, status or the circumstances in which they are found, including on unseaworthy vessels and irrespective of the intentions of those onboard. States must also guarantee that all policies and practices on the high sea and in the territorial waters effectively respect all human rights obligations, ensuring the right to life, dignity, security and physical integrity of migrants in all circumstances.
In addition, all appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that alleged people smugglers and human traffickers are identified and brought to justice.
We express our grave concern and deep sadness over this tragedy. Our deepest condolences go out to the families of the victims. We share their sorrow.
We urge the Governments of Greece to preserve the bodies of the deceased, identify them and inform their families, and provide the necessary support for the transfer of the bodies. As for the survivors, they should be given essential counselling, medical and mental care for their prompt recovery.
We call on all States to respect the human rights of migrants, including asylum seekers, to fulfil their obligations to the International Convention and comply with the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
We take this opportunity to call on the international community and States to ensure that such incidents do not recur. We urge all the concerned Governments in host and transit countries to treat migrants in a safe, dignified and humane manner, in accordance with their international obligations.”
The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, chaired by Edgar Corzo Sosa (Mexico), monitors States parties' adherence to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which to date has 58 States parties. The Committee is made up of 14 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.