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UN rights expert urges EU to respect migrants' rights

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants [official website] Francois Crepeau urged the EU on Tuesday to focus on human rights in its migration policies [press release]. Crepeau visited both sides of the border in Turkey, Greece, Tunisia and Italy [official reports] to investigate the experience of migrants. He found that those irregular migrants related to the Arab Spring [JURIST news archive] and global south were unduly targeted for security purposes that were ineffective and indirectly exploitative. Irregular migrants are those seeking economic opportunities that do not enter through a traditional visa program, usually because a sufficient program is not offered by the EU to support the seasonal work force required by its member states' economies. Crepeau reported [text, PDF] that such practices effectively limited legitimate opportunities for migrants upon entrance into the region:

Within EU institutional and policy structures, migration and border control have been increasingly integrated into security frameworks that emphasize policing, defence and criminality over a rights-based approach. ... Opening up more regular migration channels, including for low-skilled workers, thus reflecting the real labour needs of the EU, would lead to fewer irregular border crossings and less smuggling of migrants.
Crepeau noted that these economic limitations on migration influx often force migrant workers into the informal market, thus reinforcing the cycle of stereotypes that create the undue scrutiny for migrants before entry. He encouraged the EU to increase and standardize their policies regarding these workers so that they can enter the region legitimately and safely.

Crepeau will report his findings to EU institutions in Brussels on May 30-31, before the launch of the European Parliament. This report follows the recent report on human rights in Russia [JURIST report], where many NGOs focused on human rights were labeled foreign agents [JURIST report], including many which seek to assist migrant workers. The UN condemned the law's "obstructive, intimidating and stigmatizing effects" on the country's NGOs and urged [JURIST report] Russia to revise the law to comply with international standards. Critics have argued that President Vladimir Putin is taking steps backwards toward a more restrictive government, claiming the law is curbing free speech and allows the government to severely penalize the works of NGOs.

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