States of transit and destination have an obligation to protect the human rights of Venezuelan migrants regardless of their migration status, two UN expert committees on human rights said, adding their voices to a joint statement issued today.
The joint statement is available to read here.
The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, together with the Committee on the Rights of the Child, expressed serious concern about the mass exodus of Venezuelans fleeing their country due to the dire political, economic and social crisis. Over two million men, women and children had fled to surrounding countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Chile for food, work, essential services and security, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
While the region had done a commendable job at integrating them, the latest surge of fleeing Venezuelans had sparked reactions including immigration restrictions and an increase in incidents of violence, discrimination and xenophobia against Venezuelans according to the International Organization for Migration.
States must respect human rights obligations at all border crossings, including the right to due process for all migrants regardless of status, the two committees stressed. It is also important to ensure that States respect the principle of non-refoulement as well as the prohibition on arbitrary and collective expulsion, and non-detention for migration related offences. Women, children and other groups might be particularly vulnerable, the Committees underscored, urging States to ensure that internal border management centres and processes are safe, culturally appropriate and age- and gender-responsive.
The rights of child migrants had to be at the forefront of any migration response, said Renate Winter, Chair of the Child Rights Committee, adding that the key principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be the guiding principles of any migration policy regarding children. Those principles included non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to life, maximum survival and development, and the right to be heard and participate. The two Committees’ joint general comments (here and here) on children in situations of international migration provided authoritative guidance to States on how to address the multiple and intersecting forms of human rights violations faced by children in the context of international migration, they noted.
Both Chairs called on States in the region to implement those guidelines. “It is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do,” said Ahmadou Tall, Chair of the Migrant Workers Committee. Ensuring the rights of all migrants, including children, is critical to promoting social cohesion and integration in host societies, he concluded.
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