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UN rights expert urges EU to focus on migrants' rights

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants [official website] Francois Crepeau urged [press release] the EU on Monday to adopt a new approach to migration that focuses on the rights of migrants. The discussion was centered around last week's sinking of the Lampedusa [BBC report] off the coast of Italy, which claimed the lives of 194 Eritrean and Somali migrants. Crepeau visited Italy in May to study the external border management of the EU and its impact on human rights of migrants and urged [JURIST report] EU member states to prioritize human rights in the development of their migration policies. "This tragedy reminds us of the importance of that recommendation," Crepeau stated. "If countries continue to criminalize irregular migration, without adopting new legal channels for migration, especially for low-skilled migrants ... the number of migrants risking their lives on dangerously overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels over perilous sea routes can only increase."

Last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called on governments [JURIST report] to create human rights-based policies addressing migration. In May Crepeau visited both sides of the border in Turkey, Greece, Tunisia and Italy [official reports] to investigate the experience of migrant. 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.

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