HRC Johnson Migrant Right to Life

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					         The transnational migration of persons is everyday becoming a more widely

accepted reality of globalization. People in countries throughout the world are faced with

severe economic hardships that propel them away from their homes and toward the

promise of jobs in more developed nations. They often make extreme sacrifices in

pursuit of the perceived promise of higher income, which they then send back to their

families who suffer in poverty at home.

         There are over 191 million migrant workers worldwide.1 However, despite

increasing general acknowledgement of this phenomenon, migrants’ human rights are

being violated at borders and in sending and receiving countries. Migrants are treated

mostly as a workforce or in economic terms rather than as human beings who are entitled

to rights.2 The grand scale of global migration requires immediate implementation of

measures that will protect migrants’ rights as they continue journeying away from home.

This report will focus on three of these rights: the right to life, the requirement that

conditions of detention be humane, and labor rights.3

    I.       Migrants and the Right to Life

                         A. Legal Standards

         The right to life is the most basic guarantee of civil and political freedom. Article

6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “[e]very human


1
  International Organization for Migration, http://www.iom.int.
2
  Louise Arbour, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Interview by December 18 for International
Migrants’ Day, http://www.radio1812.net/en/node/273 (2006).
3
  Another important issue not covered in this report is the inefficient use of resources in the implementation
of restrictive immigration policies. Italy alone has spent over €529 million between 1999 and 2005
financing its immigrant detention centers. Yasha Maccanico, EU/Africa: Carnage Continues as EU Border
Moves South, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2006/sep/Immigration-analysis.pdf, (September 2006).
Meanwhile, the EU border agency Frontex is struggling to fill vacant positions and its human resources are
strained in the effort to handle such massive migration flows into Europe. BBC News Online, Staff woes
hit EU border agency,http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6303089.stm, (26 January 2007).



                                                      1
being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be

arbitrarily deprived of his life.”4 One hundred sixty countries are party to this

fundamental human rights instrument, and all countries must ensure that their

immigration policies do not run afoul of this guarantee of protection of the right to life.

Article 9 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant

Workers and Members of Their Families states that “[t]he right to life of migrant workers

and their families shall be protected by law.”5 Thirty-six countries have ratified and 15

have signed this treaty,6 and its continued ratification must be strongly encouraged,

especially for those countries of destination, transit, and origin whose policies have the

most direct effect on the rights of migrants.

                       B. Violations of the Right to Life

        There are two migration flows that are especially affected by poor immigration

policies which violate migrants’ right to life. One flow is of migrants moving through

Mexico to the United States; the other flow is of migrants moving from Africa to the

European Union, largely by way of the Canary Islands of Spain.

        With regard to Mexico-U.S. migration, the right to life is being violated in two

ways. The first is as a direct result of restrictive U.S. immigration policy and the passing

of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized the construction of an additional 850

miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.7 Increased Border Patrol presence at the

more populated and easily-crossed sections of the border has forced migrants to take


4
  GA res. 2200A (XXI), 21 UN GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, UN Doc. A/6316 (1966); 999 UNTS 171; 6
ILM 368 (1967).
5
  GA res. 45/158, UN GAOR, 45th Sess., UN Doc. A/45/49 (December 18, 1990, entered into force July 1,
2003).
6
  Current statistics available at:
http://www.december18.net/web/general/page.php?pageID=79&menuID=36&lang=EN#eleven
7
  8 U.S.C. §1101.


                                                  2
more dangerous and difficult routes into the U.S. Instead of crossing on the well-traveled

paths of their predecessors, migrants must now trek through the Arizona desert in

extremely harsh conditions facing many territorial hazards, a grueling journey which, for

many, ends in death. There have been more than 3,000 reported migrant deaths at the

border since 1994.8 In fiscal year 2006, 432 migrant deaths were reported.9 In the El-

Paso-New Mexico region, these figures show a 100% increase in migrant deaths from

2005.10 Clamping down at the border does not curb the inevitable flow of migration to

the U.S., but rather forces it to operate in remote and dangerous areas. The greater effects

of the Secure Fence Act remain to be seen, but in the meantime policy changes must be

implemented to protect migrants from this sad fate as they attempt to realize their dreams

of a better life.

        The second way the right to life is being violated at the U.S.-Mexico border is by

violent vigilante groups which have formed since 11 September 2001, attempting to

implement their own border policies. If migrants have managed to cross into the United

States, more peril awaits them at the hands of these lawless individuals. In one case,

Jose Rodrigo Quiroz Acosta had spent several days in the Arizona desert, awaiting

friends to bring him water and food. When they didn’t come, he decided to seek help,

and after walking for seven or eight hours, he came across a paved road where he waved

down a pickup truck. To his great misfortune, the truck was driven by Roger Barnett, a

notorious vigilante who masquerades as a Border Patrol agent. Mr. Barnett released dogs

on Mr. Quiroz, and the dogs chased him down and attacked him while Mr. Barnett beat


8
  Border Network for Human Rights, 2006 Report on Migrant Deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border,
http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/ (November 2006).
9
  Id.
10
   Id.


                                                 3
and kicked him.11 Perhaps the scariest aspect of this problem is that the U.S. government

has contemplated enlisting civilian volunteers to implement border control, effectively

condoning this lawless behavior.12 Immediate changes must take place to prevent any

further abuses of this kind.

        The flow of migration from Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands has grown in

astonishing numbers over the past year, with an estimated 31,000 migrants reaching the

islands in 2006, more than six times as many as in 2005. These numbers do not include

the approximately 6,000 migrants who died or went missing on the sea journey or the 600

dead bodies recovered on the shores of the islands.13 In April 2006, 34 migrants from

Mauritania died in a shipwreck en route to the Canary Islands. In May 2006, a boat with

the same destination was found in Barbados with 11 corpses and documentation of 26

missing persons. Twenty-one more persons died and 9 went missing when another boat

sank en route to the Canary Islands in July 2006.14 These are merely a few examples of

a regrettably common tragedy, and the rickety boats, known as cayucos, continue

departing from the west coast of Africa every day.

        Morgan, a Nigerian migrant who has made the perilous journey once before, tells

of the conditions he endured traveling from Morocco to the Canaries:

        There were three boats, each boat carried around 25 people…After many hours,
        lots of us, including myself, were vomiting. One girl who had been seriously
        vomiting died. I can’t say what happened to her body. I try never to think about
        it…After many hours of this, a big wave came and covered the boat. I thought we
        were dead. We were all crying, we had no idea which way we were going in or
        which direction we had come from….We all worked hard to bail out the water

11
   Jose Rodrigo Quiroz Acosta v. Roger Barnett, Case No. CIV04 367TUCFRZ, Filed July 16, 2004.
12
   Border Patrol Considering Use of Volunteers, Official Says, New York Times, A16 (21 July 2005).
13
   BBC News Online, Canaries migrant death toll soars, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-
/2/hi/europe/6213495.stm, (28 December 2006).
14
   Yasha Maccanico, EU/Africa: Carnage Continues as EU Border Moves South,
http://www.statewatch.org/news/2006/sep/Immigration-analysis.pdf (September 2006).


                                                   4
           and we continued the journey….We were rescued by the police as we neared the
           coastline. Moments after they picked us up, our boat broke in two….The other
           two boats disappeared. To this day I don’t know what happened to them.15

After being picked up by the Spanish Civil Guard, Morgan was detained and sent back to

Nigeria, where he set out to try again. “I am, of course, very afraid of making this boat

journey again but there is no other way….I have to try and make a better life….”16

           The European Union border agency Frontex has taken steps to stem the wave of

immigration at its points of origin, dispatching patrol boats, planes, and helicopters off

the coasts of Mauritania, Senegal, and Cape Verde.17 However, similar to the U.S.

expansion of its border patrol, this tactic does not curb the flow of migration as much as

force it to find alternative, more dangerous routes. As Austin Wainwright, emergency

coordinator of the Red Cross based in Tenerife acknowledges, even if Frontex increases

its patrol presence, “[African migrants] will try bigger boats that can make longer

journeys” in the effort to circumvent the patrols.18 Because migrants’ lives are

endangered as they continue to pursue the promise of opportunity in foreign lands, the

right to life is not protected by this policy of patrolling at the sources of origin.19

     II.      Detention-Related Issues

                        A. Legal Standards

           Article 10 of the ICCPR states that “[a]ll persons deprived of their liberty shall be




15
   BBC News Online, A migrant’s journey to Europe, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-
/2/hi/talking_point/5331608.stm, (9 December 2006).
16
   Id.
17
   BBC News Online, Stemming the immigration wave, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-
/2/hi/europe/5331896.stm, (9 October 2006).
18
   Id.
19
   HRA commends EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini for his plan calling for new job centers in
Africa to match supply with demand. BBC News Online, EU unveils new immigration plans,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6160633.stm, (30 November 2006).


                                                   5
treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”20

Article 17 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant

Workers and Members of Their Families states that “[w]henever a migrant worker is

deprived of his or her liberty, the competent authorities of the State concerned shall pay

attention to the problems that may be posed for members of his or her family, in

particular for spouses and minor children.”21

                         B. Rights Violations related to Detention

        The detention centers where migrants are held after being captured are frequently

the sites of a range of human rights abuses. Conditions in the T. Don Hutto Family

Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, U.S. are prisonlike: detainees live in cells, wear

monochrome uniforms, and must clean their cells and the communal showers. Even

though the government is legally required to hold families in the least restrictive

conditions possible, children and adults with no criminal background are being

incarcerated in block buildings with thin slit windows, sleeping on metal bunk beds.22

The schedule is regimented, with mandatory wake-up by 5:30 a.m. to take showers, 15

minutes to eat each meal, and curfew at 9:30 p.m., when laser-triggered alarms are set to

detect if anyone gets up.23 Young children are separated from their parents, and




20
   GA res. 2200A (XXI), 21 UN GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, UN Doc. A/6316 (1966); 999 UNTS 171; 6
ILM 368 (1967).
21
   GA res. 45/158, UN GAOR, 45th Sess., UN Doc. A/45/49 (December 18, 1990, entered into force July 1,
2003).
22
   Ralph Blumenthal, U.S. Gives Tour of Family Detention Center That Critics Liken to a Prison, The New
York Times, A9, (9 February 2007).
23
   Unnati Gandhi, From Texas Cell, Canadian, Nine, Pleads for Help, The Globe and Mail, (3 March
2007).


                                                   6
detainees have complained of subpar schooling, long waits for medical care, and weight

loss.24

          Conditions in detention centers in Europe are also deplorable. In the summer of

2006, seven prison officers at the Los Capuchinos detention center in Málaga were

alleged to have held parties and had sexual relations with female detainees in exchange

for favorable treatment.25 Moroccans seeking to migrate to Italy were detained in Libya,

where they were given only chickpeas to eat twice a day and were beaten if they did not

eat them fast enough. Several Bangladeshi migrants who attempted to escape from this

Libyan detention center were punished by having their faces submerged in sewer

drains.26

          In early March 2007 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S., approximately 100

children, including infants, were left stranded at day care facilities and schools when their

parents were rounded up by federal immigration officials in a raid on a leather goods

factory.27 Similar raids have taken place in California and Arizona, ripping migrants,

who have committed no crime, away from their children, spouses, homes, and

livelihoods. These raids affect the rights not only of migrants but also of citizens, who

suffer because of the immigration status of their parents or other family members. The

result is a pervasive climate of fear of deportation in migrant communities that prevents

migrants from sending their children to school, going about their daily business, or even

opening their own front doors.


24
   Kelly Shannon, ACLU Sues Over Detained Immigrant Kids, The Associated Press, reprinted in the New
York Times, (6 March 2007).
25
   Yasha Maccanico, EU/Africa: Carnage Continues as EU Border Moves South,
http://www.statewatch.org/news/2006/sep/Immigration-analysis.pdf (September 2006).
26
   Id.
27
   Ray Henry, Children Left Stranded After Migrants Held in Factory Raid, Associated Press, (8 March
2007).


                                                  7
     III.      The Labor Rights of Migrant Workers

                        A. Legal Standards

            The right to freedom of association is recognized as a fundamental human right

and is well-protected in various international human rights instruments. Article 22 of the

ICCPR states that “[e]veryone shall have the right to freedom of association with others,

including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”28

Article 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights requires

States Parties undertake to ensure “[t]he right of everyone to form trade unions and join

the trade union of his choice, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned, for

the promotion and protection of his economic and social interests.”29 Both of these

treaties guarantee the protection of this right without discrimination on the basis of

immigration status.

            The International Labor Organization Conventions 87 and 98 also provide

protection of the fundamental right to freedom of association without distinction as to

immigration status.30 As the Committee on Freedom of Association has noted, ILO

Convention 98 requires "adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination."31

The right of workers to freely organize is essential to providing migrants with a




28
   GA res. 2200A (XXI), 21 UN GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, UN Doc. A/6316 (1966); 999 UNTS 171; 6
ILM 368 (1967).
29
   GA res. 2200A (XXI), 21 UN GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 49, UN Doc. A/6316 (1966); 993 UNTS 3; 6
ILM 368 (1967).
30
   Convention Concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, ILO
Convention No. 87 (1948); Convention Concerning the Application of the Principles of the Right to
Organize and Bargain Collectively, ILO Convention No. 98 (1949); available at
http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/convdisp1.htm.
31
   Case no. 2227, Report no. 332 (United States), Complaints against the government of the United States
presented by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industiral Relations (AFL-CIO) and
the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), available at:
http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm


                                                    8
framework for wielding their collective bargaining power and asserting other violations

of their rights in the workplace.

        The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial

Discrimination also guarantees the right to form and join trade unions without distinction

as to national origin, as well as requiring effective remedies for violations.32 One

hundred seventy-three countries are party to this convention, including the United

States.33

        The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant

Workers and Members of Their Families echoes these protections. Article 26 bestows

upon migrants and their families the right to join and participate in unions and to seek

their aid without restrictions.34 The continued ratification and implementation of this

Convention must be made top priority in order to protect migrants’ rights.

                       B. Violations of Core Labor Rights

        In countries where migrants have a protected right to organize, the right is

truncated by the lack of an effective remedy for violations of the right. This is the

situation in the United States after Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor

Relations Board.35 In the Hoffman case, an undocumented worker was illegally fired for

his participation in a union organizing campaign. While his termination was found to be

a clear violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the National Labor Relations Act,




32
   G.A. res. 2106 (XX), Annex, 20 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 14) at 47, U.N. Doc. A/6014 (1966), 660
U.N.T.S. 195, entered into force Jan. 4, 1969.
33
   Current status of States Parties available at:
http://untreaty.un.org/ENGLISH/bible/englishinternetbible/partI/chapterIV/treaty2.asp
34
   GA res. 45/158, UN GAOR, 45th Sess., UN Doc. A/45/49 (December 18, 1990, entered into force July 1,
2003.
35
   Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National labor Relations Board, 535 U.S. 137 (2002).


                                                  9
the Court held that he was not entitled to the traditional remedy of backpay because of his

status as an undocumented migrant.

        There are 8 million undocumented workers in the United States.36 The effect of

the Hoffman decision is to leave the millions of persons with irregular migration status

without effective remedy for violations of their human rights. Without an available

remedy, workers have no incentive to report violations, and employers are in the position

to abuse undocumented workers with little fear of being held accountable. Employers

have been using the Hoffman decision as leverage to intimidate undocumented workers

into silence.37 Many migrant workers do not speak English and fail to fully understand

their rights. Even migrants with regular immigration status fear negative consequences

for their undocumented families and friends and therefore do not feel free to fully

exercise their core labor rights.38 This blatant imbalance of power between employers

and employees results in widespread abuses of migrant workers’ rights, and without

effective remedies available, employers enjoy impunity for these violations.

        After Hoffman was decided, Mexico requested an advisory opinion from the Inter-

American Court of Human Rights addressing the discriminatory effect it has had against

migrant workers. The court stated that “the migratory status of a person cannot constitute

a justification to deprive him of the enjoyment and exercise of human rights, including


36
   Case no. 2227, Report no. 332 (United States), Complaints against the government of the United States
presented by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industiral Relations (AFL-CIO) and
the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), available at:
http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm
37
   See Connie de la Vega and Conchita Lozano-Batista, Advocates Should Use Applicable International
Standards to Address Violations of Undocumented Migrant Workers’ Rights in the United States, HUMAN
RIGHTS AND REFUGEES, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS AND MIGRANT WORKERS:
ESSAYS IN HONOR OF JOAN FITZPATRICK AND ARTHUR HELTON, Bayefsky, Anne F. ed.
(2005), reprinted at 3 Hastings Race & Poverty L.J. 35, 50 (2005).
38
   Kathryn Dittrick, Migrant Workers’ Right to Organize, available at
http://www.humanrightsadvocates.org/UN%20interventions%20list1.htm


                                                  10
those of a labor-related nature. When assuming an employment relationship, the migrant

acquires rights that must be recognized and ensured because he is an employee,

irrespective of his regular or irregular status in the State where he is employed.”39 As the

Special Rapporteur on Migrants stated in his 2005 report, “[t]he State is also responsible

for guaranteeing the right to freedom of association, [and] the right to join freely and

participate in any trade union or association….”40 The United States is not obligated to

offer employment to migrants who enter the country illegally, but once they are

employed, international law requires that all workers be treated the same, regardless of

immigration status.41 The United States is in clear violation of its international treaty

obligations and immediate reform is needed to stop the abuses suffered by millions of

workers living there in vulnerable working environments.

        Union organizers in the United States pork-packing industry are concerned that

one company, Smithfield Foods, had collaborated with immigration authorities in

organizing a raid at their North Carolina plant in an attempt to scare migrants out of

union organizing. The raid resulted in the arrest of 21 undocumented workers who will

be deported. Union officials are concerned with the company’s history of threatening

immigrants with deportation for trying to unionize.42 This is but one example of the

abuse of power that results from the derogation of migrant workers’ labor rights.




39
   Juridical Condition and Rights of the Undocumented Migrants, Advisory Opinion OC-18, 17 September
2003, Inter-Am. Ct.H.R. (Ser. A) No. 18/03 (2003) at 113 -114, available at
http://www.corteidh.or.cr/serieapdf_ing/seriea_18_ing.pdf.
40
   Jorge Bustamante, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, E/CN.4/2006/73,
30 December 2005.
41
   Lilah S. Rosenblum, Mistakes in the Making: The Failure of U.S. Immigration Reform to Protect the
Labor Rights of Undocumented Workers, 13 Hum. Rts. Br. 23, Spring 2006.
42
   Julia Preston, Immigration Raid Draws Protest from labor Officials, The New York Times, (26 January
2007).


                                                  11
        While the deplorable situation in the United States is striking, similar violations

are occurring in many other receiving countries. In South Africa, migrant workers are

treated with little regard for their human rights. Unlawful deductions are taken from

foreign farmworkers’ wages, police and immigration officials assault and extort money

from foreign workers, and migrants have been detained for more than 30 days without

due process.43 Migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are in one of the

worst situations of all, effectively working as indentured servants on construction projects

in Dubai. Many of these migrants hail from South Asia and must take on huge amounts

of debt in order to get to the UAE. Once there, they face extremely low wages,

withholding of wages, confiscation of passports, no guarantee of health care coverage

despite extremely hazardous working conditions, no freedom of job movement, and

inability to form trade unions or bargain collectively to remedy any of the above

violations.44

        As migration has increased in correlation with globalization, what was once a

male-dominated phenomenon now includes a burgeoning population of migrating female

domestic workers. Almost half of all international migrants are women.45 The labor

rights of these women and girls are being violated similarly to those of male migrants, but

females are exposed to further violations including physical and sexual abuse by their

employers, forced confinement, and excessive working hours with no rest.46 A study


43
   Human Rights Watch, Unprotected Migrants: Zimbabweans in South Africa’s Limpopo Province,
http://hrw.org/reports/2006/southafrica0806/3.htm#_Toc142188100, (8 August 2006).
44
   Human Rights Watch, Building Towers, Cheating Workers: Exploitation of Migrant Construction
Workers in the United Arab Emirates, http://hrw.org/reports/2006/uae1106/, (12 November 2006).
45
   International Labour Migration and Development: The ILO Perspective, 61 st Session of the General
Assembly, High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, New York, 14-15
September 2006.
46
   Human Rights Watch, Domestic Workers Abused Worldwide,
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/07/26/singap13804.htm (27 July 2006).


                                                   12
conducted by the Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University

revealed that 82% of migrant domestic workers in Thailand were required to work more

than 12 hours a day, often seven days a week. Many of these workers reported being

locked indoors by their employers, and almost all are paid below the minimum wage.47

In the United States, domestic workers employed by diplomats and the staff of

international organizations are particularly vulnerable because of the immunity enjoyed

by the holders of these positions. These domestic workers have reported working an

average of 14 hours six or seven days a week, confiscation of their passports, restrictions

on their freedom of movement, and sexual assault. The average wage for these workers

in 2001 was an appalling $2.14, less than half of the $5.15 federal minimum wage at the

time.48

          Human Rights Advocates commends the Philippines for the positive example

provided by its Philippines Overseas Employment Administration, which issues standard

contracts to Philippine migrant domestic workers guaranteeing a minimum wage and one

day per week of rest.49 These contracts should serve as a model for the kinds of measures

sending countries should take in order to protect its migrant workers abroad. However,

there is also a need for receiving countries to work in conjunction with sending countries

to ensure these contracts are being enforced.




47
   International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, The Mekong Challenge - Underpaid,
Overworked and Overlooked: The situation of young migrant workers in Thailand,
http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/asro/bangkok/child/trafficking/newpublication-showcase.htm, (13
December 2006).
48
   American Civil Liberties Union, Trafficking and Exploitation of Migrant Domestic Workers by
Diplomats and Staff of International Organizations in the United States,
http://www.aclu.org/womensrights/humanrights/28034res20070117.html (17 January 2007).
49
   Human Rights Watch, Domestic Workers Abused Worldwide,
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/07/26/singap13804.htm (27 July 2006).


                                                  13
           Deprivation of these fundamental labor rights adversely affects not just migrant

workers but the global economy as a whole. Without protection of these rights or

meaningful remedies for violations thereof, undocumented workers have no incentive to

self-report, meaning employers will be likely to continue hiring and abusing

undocumented workers and wages will be driven down. Migrants will be able to

contribute best to the development of host societies only if they are fully integrated into

them and not discriminated against on the basis of their immigration status.50 While the

United States has immediate reforms to make to its own policies of discrimination against

migrant workers, it can also exercise some influence in shaping policy changes in

countries with which the U.S. negotiates free trade agreements, such as the UAE.

Countries should condition agreements on labor law reform that provides, at a minimum,

for migrant workers to be able to form trade unions and bargain collectively and have

access to meaningful remedies should these rights be violated.51

     IV.      Recommendations

           Human Rights Advocates urges the Council to recommend Member States:

                  Ratify the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant
                   Workers and Their Families to ensure the highest protection of migrants’
                   rights.
                  Act immediately to align their immigration policies with international
                   treaty obligations and customary international law protecting the right to
                   life. While individual nations are entitled to formulate their own
                   immigration policies, these policies must acknowledge that migration will
                   occur whether receiving countries desire it or not. What must be done to
                   protect migrants’ right to life is not to clamp down and force migrants to
                   travel on the perilous margins but rather to find other humane ways of
                   regulating migration flows.

50
   Louise Arbour, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Interview by December 18 for International
Migrants’ Day, http://www.radio1812.net/en/node/273 (2006).
51
   Human Rights Watch, Building Towers, Cheating Workers: Exploitation of Migrant Construction
Workers in the United Arab Emirates, http://hrw.org/reports/2006/uae1106/, (12 November 2006).



                                                 14
                 Educate border communities on the driving forces behind migration, the
                  developmental benefits of transnational migration, and the need to
                  eliminate xenophobic misconceptions of migrant populations. Criminal
                  penalties must be imposed on vigilantes who operate outside of the law in
                  committing violence against migrants.
                 Act immediately to align their labor legislation with international treaty
                  obligations and customary international law, ensuring that migrant
                  workers are not being discriminated against on the basis of their
                  immigration status.
                 Commit to a nondiscriminatory rights-based labor policy providing
                  sanctions for abusive employers and full remedies for violations of core
                  labor standards regardless of immigration status. The example of the
                  Philippines should be lauded as a positive step toward the development of
                  a more sophisticated body of bilateral and multilateral agreements
                  between sending and receiving countries, which allow each country to
                  address its concerns with regard to its citizens as they move outside their
                  borders.

     V.      Conclusion

        Migration can no longer be underestimated in its importance in world political
and economic dynamics. There is not a nation in the world that is not somehow affected
by migration, whether as a sending, receiving, or transit country. The Special Rapporteur
has highlighted denial of demand as one of the central problems plaguing the migration
debate.52 Governments must recognize that migrant workers are depended upon to
supply the workforce in many destination countries, and the remittances they send back
home provide valuable sources of income for sending countries. There is a need for open
dialogues between source and destination countries to address the root causes of
migration in order to regulate it in such a way that the human rights of migrants are
viewed as the highest priority. The long-range goal should be to make migration a matter
of choice rather than necessity.53
        Protections of migrants’ rights are provided by various international legal
instruments, yet countries are violating their obligations under these treaties. Awareness
must continue to be raised and pressure applied to violators in order to ensure the full
protection of the rights of migrants.




52
   Jorge Bustamante, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, E/CN.4/2006/73,
30 December 2005.
53
   Message by Mr. Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labor Office, on the occasion of
International Migrants Day (18 December 2006).


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