Summary of Our Interventions Concerning Migrants

March 20 - April 28, 2000
Palais des Nations, Geneva

The statement that we presented at the Commission echoed the reflections that emerged during our seminar "Europe: an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice?" organized with the ICMC. The respect of human dignity, inalienable, indivisible and inherent to every human being, no matter where they come from or which legal status they may enjoy, implies a specific approach to the different policy areas:

  1. Among the member States of the European Union, there is a need for harmonized asylum procedures as well as a common definition of refugee. Together with decent reception conditions respecting the basic rights of every refugee or asylum applicant, these measures could not only help refugees out of uncertainty and errance, but also prevent an "asylum shopping" in different member States. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the notion of security applies not only to the States but also to every human being. In this context, we expressed concern about the European Union's readmission policy with regard to States where the security of the refugee cannot be guaranteed.

  2. We called for a positive approach to migration, which is, has been and will always be an important contribution to our societies. Our economies make large profit from migrants, not only by importing highly qualified specialists, but, also, by implicitly accepting the system's need for clandestine, low-qualified and bad-ly-paid, thus cheap, labor force. The present lack, in and among many European countries, of a coherent immigration legislation plays a role in forcing people to use the asylum corridor to immigrate, and, eventually, get into an illegal situation.

  3. We declared that there is a great need for consistent harmonized asylum procedures, a common operable definition of refugees, as well as the implementation of decent reception conditions among European Union countries. In their own self-interest European countries need to implement a fair and consistent set of immigration standards and to dismantle uneven immigration legislation that encourages and forces people to misuse asylum procedure. In this context, we urged States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Workers and Members of their Families.

  4. Finally, we stated that the victims of trafficking are the weakest of all, having been humiliated, raped, consequently deprived of the most basic rights. These victims need long term protection, legal and social assistance. They should also be entitled to a permanent legal resident status, not to be limited to the sole purpose of serving as witnesses against the traffickers. We highlighted that trafficking with human beings is a world business with high profit and low risk when it is compared to the trafficking in drugs and weapons. Traffickers, who use coercion, should undergo severe punishment, the confiscated money being used to provide help to the victims who are in need. However, in cases where no coercion or deception is used, trafficking might be the only hope for a refugee to get into the territory of the European Union.
Summary links for the Commission 2000: Colombia, Iraqi, Philippines, Pakistan, Mexico, women, migrant workers, human rights defenders
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UN Commission on Human Rights: Fifty-sixth session
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UN Commission on Human Rights: Fifty-sixth session