«Protect now»!

Press release
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Letter to the Cabinet Ministers participating in the Euro-African Ministerial Conference «Migration and Development».

The International Federation for Human Rights, the Euromed Platform and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), remind the cabinet ministers taking part in the Euro-African ministerial conference on «Migrations and Development» that all migration policies must ensure that the universal norms for the protection of migrants and refugees are respected.

Migration has become a worldwide issue. This migration is not only taking place from North to South, but also concern the emigrating countries, which are becoming more and more transit and host countries.

Migration is the result of a wide range of factors including armed conflicts. This explains why most refugees seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Migration is also the result of persecution and discrimination due to ethnic, religious or political backgrounds. Furthermore, they are a consequence -whatever the reason may be- of the impossibility of building a future.

Migration will become an ever increasing issue as the reasons for itare likely to persist. These migrations are part of the evolution of world dynamics that are hard to mingle with human stasis. However, these migrations are one of the potential elements that could ensure a better access to knowledge and wealth.

It is therefore necessary to stop treating migrants strictly from a police point of view and to start treating them as a natural element of inter-societal dynamics. The right of the States to whether host foreigners or not should not result in the restriction to freely move around between countries, even for professional, family or touristic reasons.

In this context, and while the States that are taking part in the Rabat conference are planning to carry out an action plan against illegal immigration, the International Federation for Human Rights, the Euromed Platform and the Euro - mediterranean Human Rights network strongly remind that migration policies must be based on the respect for the Universal Human Rights norms and the treaties concerning the rights of migrants and refugees. These rights, guaranteed by the universal norms, apply to workers, migrants with working and residence papers as well as to those without them.

1. First of all, the signatories deplore that the States taking part in the Rabat Conference have put aside the issue of asylum, thus conveying the idea that all current migratory dynamics are exclusively due to economic reasons. Like other regions of conflict, Africa has undergone and is still undergoing political turmoil and armed struggles, which constitute flagrant human rights violations and have devastating effects. Far from being only economic migrants escaping extreme poverty, African migrants nowadays are often refugees trying to escape oppression and are generally hosted in neighbouring countries. It is an international obligation and a basic ethical human attitude to take in the emigrants whose lives are at risk in the Northern side of the continent. In this matter, the signatories observe that a lot of people are not given the status of refugees, and that, in Southern Mediterranean countries, receiving this status does not entitle them to any actual rights. We believe that it is appropriate to recall the specificity of the right to seek asylum: this right should not depend on migration policies. The Geneva Convention on Refugees and the obligations derived from this convention must be fully respected. The States must recognize the role and the authority of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the latter must fulfill its functions in accordance with its duties and not in the interest of the States. In this light, the signatory NGOs recall that two States1 taking part in the Rabat Conference have not ratified the 1951 Treaty regarding the status of refugees. In many States that have ratified this Treaty, there is an great lack of proper institutional mechanisms to manage and handle individual asylum petitions.

2. The FIDH, the Euromed Platform and the EMHRN ascertain that the legislations concerning the entry and the stay of foreigners in Europe are becoming more and more restrictive. These legislations lead to the implementation of similar legislations in Southern countries: the consequences are ever more worrying due to the fact that these legislations are implemented within a legal framework which does not guarantee basic Human Rights. We call upon the States taking part in the Rabat Conference to go back to a «common law» that guarantees the respect for migrants’ rights and freedoms, without any exceptions.

We expressly demand that the States taking part in the Rabat Conference change their legislations in order to enable migrants to enjoy their rights. We also demand that no agreement between states be passed without making sure that the rights of migrants will be fully respected.

The signatory NGOs sadly recall that only 102 out of 583 States taking part in the conference (and among them, not on European State), have ratified the International Treaty on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and their families.

This Treaty stipulates that all migrant workers, even illegal ones have, inter alia:

- the right to not be part of any mass forceable eviction (article 22)
- the right to be protected from any form of torture or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment (article10)
- the right to life (article9)
- in case of arrest, the right to be judged by a competent, independent and unbiased court, with all the guarantees of a fair trial (article18)
- the right to freedom and security, effective protection by the State against violence, physical harm, threats and intimidations, be it by public servants or individual citizens, groups or institutions (article 16).

Thus, the FIDH, the Euromed Platform and the EMHRN call upon all States taking part in the Rabat conference to ratify the International Treaty on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and their families,

3. The FIDH, the Euromed Platform and the EMHRN deplore the will of the States taking part in the conference to keep civil society away from the issues that are being discussed in Rabat. Civil society is actually one of the key elements in fighting racism, xenophobia and to be able to take in migrants properly. By refusing to listen to the people -beyond simple and unimportant matters-, the States are proving to be very uncommunicative. We call upon the States participating in the Rabat Conference to listen to the people, to take their proposals and points of view into consideration, and to make them a part of the set-up, the implementation and the follow-up of any action plan on migrations, as well as taking the necessary measures to strengthen their means of action.

Driss EL YAZAMI, Secretary General of the FIDH
Mourad ALLAL, Euromed Platform Coordinator
Kamel JENDOUBI, President of the Euro-mediterranean Human Rights Network-

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