Global rights group urges states to respect migrant rights

[JURIST] The Global Migration Group (GMG) [official website] adopted a statement [text] Thursday urging all governments to respect the human rights of migrants, who are more likely to face various forms of abuse as they lack proper legal status. The GMG, which is comprised of 12 UN agencies, the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration [official websites], stressed that everybody, regardless of migration status, should enjoy the fundamental rights to life, liberty and security, freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention, asylum from persecution, and protection from discrimination based on race, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, or other status. The group further recognized that:

Although States have legitimate interests in securing their borders and exercising immigration controls, such concerns cannot, and indeed, as a matter of international law do not, trump the obligations of the State to respect the internationally guaranteed rights of all persons, to protect those rights against abuses, and to fulfill the rights necessary for them to enjoy a life of dignity and security.
The statement may target recent events such as Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants and France's expulsions of Roma migrants.

In July, French President Nicholas Sarkozy [official website, in French] ordered measures [press release] against illegal Roma [JURIST news archive] communities in France and announced new legislation [JURIST report] aimed at making their deportation easier. The government aims to dismantle half of illegal Roma camps in the country within three months and to immediately deport of all those found to have broken the law. The government identified the Roma's illegal settlements as sources of illicit trafficking, unworthy living conditions, and the exploitation of children for begging, prostitution or crime. In April, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website] signed into law [press release, PDF] a controversial bill [SB1070 materials; JURIST news archive] that requires any individual suspected of being an illegal immigrant to present valid identification to law enforcement officials. The legislation [JURIST report] gives police officers permission to determine the immigration status of any individual who arouses reasonable suspicion, criminalizes the hiring of illegal immigrants for day labor, and allows citizens to sue the local government if they believe the policy is not being used properly. Both measures have drawn significant criticism both internationally and domestically, and have been charged with stigmatizing migrant communities.

 

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