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16 April 2015 – The European Union must intensify its efforts in placing the rights of migrants at the centre of its migration policies, a United Nations human rights committee affirmed today following the latest maritime tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea which may have claimed hundreds of lives.
“States of origin, destination and transit must also address the root causes that lead to smuggling and trafficking in persons,” the UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers (CMW) said in a press release issued earlier this afternoon which added that the continual loss of life in the Mediterranean’s waters transcended the limits of natural calamity and was, in fact, “a human rights tragedy.”
The 13 April capsizing of a double-deck boat in waters 120 kilometres south of Italy’s Lampedusa Island has prompted widespread concern throughout the UN system amid reports that over 400 migrants may have lost their lives.
In fact, 2015 has already seen some 31,500 people make crossings to Italy and Greece – the first and second largest countries of arrival respectively. The UN refugee agency has reported that numbers have also been recently picking up as weather conditions in the Mediterranean improve.
The uptick in migrant flows into Europe and the severity and repetition of such tragedies has fed the CMW’s call for Member States in the region, and other States that serve as migrant destination points around the world, to make “a clear commitment to ensure a comprehensive rights-based approach to migration,” including applying a focus on its roots causes.
The UN Committee is also reiterating its call for all states to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families which, to date, has only been ratified by 47 States since it was adopted 25 years ago.
“The Convention sets out the best strategy to prevent abuses and address the challenges that migrant workers face,” CMW Chairperson Francisco Carrion Mena added. “It also provides guidance on the elaboration of national migration policies for international co-operation based on respect for human rights and rule of law.”
Just last October, Mr. Carrion Mena lamented the growing number of lives lost at sea and on land as a result of insufficient channels of migration, suggesting that States could better their efforts in ensuring migrants a safer avenue of passage.
In their press release, the Committee today urged States to adopt the suggested guidelines “to ensure that all migrants, regardless of their legal status, how they arrive at the border, where they come from or what they look like, are able to enjoy their human rights.”