UN expert calls for stronger regional cooperation and increased international support to guarantee Venezuelan migrants’ rights
GENEVA (5 September 2018) – Given the increase in the flow of migrants from Venezuela in recent months, especially to countries in South America, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, called for strengthening regional cooperation and increasing the support of the international community to guarantee the human rights of Venezuelan migrants wherever they are.
"I commend the solidarity of the Latin American countries which in recent years have hosted hundreds of thousands of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees who have left Venezuela because of the political, economic and social situation in the country,” he said. “In times when racist and xenophobic anti-immigration discourses are gaining ground, the response of Latin American countries is an example and inspiration for other regions of the world that are closing the doors to migration."
According to data from UNHCR and IOM, approximately 5,000 women, men and children leave Venezuela every day. A total of 2.3 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015, 90 percent of whom have gone to another country in South America, thanks to bilateral and regional agreements that facilitate the mobility of migrants in Latin America. However, many of them lack documentation or permits for a regular stay in host countries, which makes them particularly vulnerable to discrimination, violence, trafficking and exploitation.
As the flow of migrants increased in the past few months, their humanitarian and protection needs become more acute. "The migration crisis is at a breaking point that requires a determined coordinated regional response and effective support from hosting countries as well as the international community," said Mr. González Morales.
The Special Rapporteur witnessed with concern the recent outbreaks of xenophobic acts against Venezuelan migrants at some border crossings, as well as the restrictive measures adopted in recent weeks by some countries to respond to the migration crisis. "Although I understand the enormity of the challenge that destination and transit countries face, these restrictive measures are not the solution, as they lead to an increase in irregular migration and, therefore, put migrant persons at greater risk of exploitation, trafficking and smuggling," stated the expert, as he urged to strengthen regional cooperation for the adoption of coordinated responses.
In this respect, the Special Rapporteur welcomed the organisation of several intergovernmental meetings in recent weeks to adopt coordinated responses for assistance and protection in the region. "The measures adopted should continue to allow people in need of international protection to have access to the security and protection of their human rights wherever they are," underlined the expert as he recalled that pushbacks and deportations at the borders are contrary to international law when carried out without an individual assessment of risks of serious human rights violations in case of expulsion.
The independent expert also called for collaboration between destination and transit countries and the country of origin in order to provide a coordinated response of assistance and protection, and adopt the necessary measures to address the root causes of the migration crisis.
"An increased support from the international community is key to sustain the governments of the region that have demonstrated their solidarity with the Venezuelans and have been receptive to their arrivals, as they deliver their daunting task," the expert said. In order to ensure a smooth process, human-rights based and gender responsive measures should be adopted through alternative measures of temporary residence permits and regularisation programmes that guarantee access to basic rights to health, housing, education, family unity, freedom of movement, work and economic and social integration, "and where necessary, facilitate documentation requirements and alleviate costs to guarantee access to those rights”.
"Likewise, there is an urgent need for greater international support to strengthen and streamline asylum procedures and other international protection processes, as well as to develop data collection and monitoring systems for arrivals of migrants in order to determine their needs and develop appropriate policies,” said the expert.
Mr. Felipe González Morales (Chile) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in June 2017 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three years. As a Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. He is Professor of International Law at the Diego Portales University, in Santiago, Chile, where he is also the Director of a Master’s programme in International Human Rights Law.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Proceduresof the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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