Migrants’ Rights

3.2% of the world’s population are international migrants. This figure includes refugees fleeing persecution or fear of persecution, persons displaced by environmental factors, those who leave their country of origin to seek employment and retired persons from Northern countries in search of sunshine. The percentage has remained stable for years, yet the reasons for migration - voluntary or forced - have become increasingly complex and the countries of destination more diverse.
Given the attraction of emerging economies (Brazil, India, China) and oil-producing countries such as the Gulf states and several African countries, the majority of migration takes place towards the Southern hemisphere (south-south or north-south), or from one country in the North to another. Despite this, states in the Northern hemisphere remain obsessed by a fear of "invasion" by poor migrants from the Global South. As a result of ever-increasing controls on migration, the vulnerability of migrant persons to violations of their human rights is exacerbated. While the United States continues to "protect" itself by an illusory wall, Europe strengthens controls at its external borders, with the help of Frontex, forcing exiles to take ever more dangerous routes which often lead to death, gradually transforming the Mediterranean sea into a vast cemetery. These policies prioritise economic and security interests over respect for human rights. Meanwhile, the responses provided by international institutions remain widely inadequate.

The protection of the rights of migrant persons is one of FIDH’s priorities.
 Through its network of members and partners in countries of departure, transit and arrival, FIDH documents violations of the human rights of migrant persons throughout their journeys and calls on national authorities to adopt legal and political reforms. FIDH participates in the campaign for the universal ratification of the Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families;
 FIDH fights against impunity of perpetrators of violations of the human rights of migrant persons, including through strategic litigation;
 FIDH denounces the failure of European migration policy and calls on the EU to overhaul its approach in order to protect human rights.

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  • European migration policy

    The European Union pursues a policy of closure, focusing on border security with the support of its agency Frontex. The lack of safe and legal routes into the EU push people to take more dangerous routes and to put their lives in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers.
    The EU seeks to put more and more responsibility for controlling migration on countries of departure and transit to the south of the Mediterranean, including North African countries, where grave violations of the rights of migrant persons continue.
    In the face of the crisis of European migration policy, FIDH advocates for:
     The creation of safe and legal routes into Europe (granting visas, increasing resettlement, facilitating family reunification, abolishing airport transit visas...);
     The repeal of the Dublin regulation and guaranteeing the right of migrant persons to make a request for asylum in the country of their choice;
     Ending all cooperation in the area of migration with states of origin and transit which do not respect the human rights of migrant persons.

  • Migrant workers

    Migrant workers, especially those with irregular administrative status, are victims of multiple violations of their human rights, in countries of destination where they are often exploited by employers, as well as countries of transit. In the Gulf states, migrant workers are trapped by the sponsor ("kafala") system which ties them to their employers and prevents them changing jobs or even leaving the country. In the Dominican Republic, Haitian agricultural workers on sugar cane plantations have no social protection. In Russia, repression against migrant workers mainly from Central Asia is growing, with arbitrary arrests, violence and deportations.
    The Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, adopted by the United Nations in 1990, has been ratified by increasing numbers of states but by none of the member states of the European Union.