Committee on Protection of Rights of Migrant Workers concludes thirteenth session

Committee on Rights of Migrant Workers
ROUNDUP 3 December 2010

Adopts Concluding Observations and Recommendations on the Reports of Albania, Ecuador and Senegal;
Adopts General Comment on Migrant Domestic Workers

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families today concluded its thirteenth session after issuing its concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of Albania, Ecuador and Senegal.

In its concluding observations on the initial report of Albania, the Committee welcomed a new border screening procedure aimed at improving the treatment of irregular migrants. The Committee expressed deep concerns that the State party had emerged as a country of origin, as well as a transit country, for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour, including women and children. The Committee offered many recommendations to help the State party combat human trafficking, including vigorous prosecution of those engaged in the practice.

After examining the second periodic report of Ecuador, the Committee was pleased to note the efforts made by Ecuador to protect the rights of migrant workers abroad, as well as efforts made to regularize Peruvian migrants within its territory. The Committee, however, reiterated its concern about discrimination, exclusion and exploitation suffered by migrant women in the State party as well as lack of access to employment rights and benefits, especially for migrant domestic workers. In terms of child labour, the Committee suggested that the State party redouble its efforts to eradicate the worst forms of child labour and that it collect data on the numbers of unaccompanied minor migrant workers in Ecuador and the type of work they performed.

Concerning the initial report of Senegal, the Committee noted with interest the adoption of law number 2005-06 of 10 May 2005 relating to fighting human trafficking and the protection of victims; and the creation of the Ministry of Senegalese Living Abroad. The Committee noted with concern the absence of statistical information on migratory movements, in particular statistics concerning economic migration to Senegal and Senegalese expatriates. It strongly encouraged the State party to create a solid data base disaggregated by sex, age and origin, to allow all to better comprehend the migratory context and the situation of migrant workers in Senegal, including those who were in an irregular situation.

In addition to considering State party reports, the Committee held meetings with representatives of non-governmental organizations and commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. During the daylong event the Committee held several panels which looked at the accomplishments of the Convention after 20 years as well as the topics of gender and migration, economic development and migration and ways to increase ratification and better implementation of the Convention.

The Committee also adopted its first General Comment concerning the rights of migrant domestic workers. The General Comment addresses, among other things, portability of social security benefits and pensions for migrant domestic workers, regularization of the status of children born to migrant workers abroad, the rights of migrant domestic workers to consular and legal services, and emergency housing for migrant domestic workers who lose their housing when they leave an abusive employer with whom they lived.

The Committee adopted its annual report to the General Assembly and also welcomed a new acting interim Committee secretary, Noemy Barrita-Chagoya.

The next session of the Committee will be held from 4 to 8 April 2011, when it is scheduled to consider the second periodic report of Mexico.

Concluding Observations and Recommendations

Albania

The Committee noted with appreciation that Albania piloted at its border points a unique pre-screening procedure for migrants in an irregular situation, asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors and victims of trafficking entering Albania. This procedure had been in place since 2004 and aimed to improve the treatment of irregular migrants. The Committee also welcomed the efforts undertaken by the State party to promote and protect the rights of Albania’s migrant workers abroad, including: the National Strategy on Migration and National Action Plan on Migration; the Government Information and Communication Policy addressed to the Albanian Migrant Community abroad; and the establishment of Migrant Service Centres in all Regional Employment Offices. The Committee also welcomed the bi-national institutional dialogue to pursue/renew labour agreements/protocols of implementation with Greece and Italy as well as the ratification of numerous international instruments.

The Committee welcomed the information provided by the State party but regretted the paucity of information on migration flows and on other migration-related issues. While noting the difficulties faced by the State party in this regard, the Committee recalled that such information was indispensable to an understanding of the situation of migrant workers in the State party and to an assessment of the implementation of the Convention. The Committee noted with concern that there was no information showing that the State party has taken measures to train judges and prosecutors on the Convention or to disseminate information and promote the Convention among all the relevant stakeholders, in particular civil society organizations. The Committee was also concerned that migrant workers, irrespective of their legal status, had in practice limited access to justice, due to a lack of awareness concerning the administrative and judicial remedies that were available to them. It also noted with deep concern that the State party had emerged as a country of origin, as well as a transit country, for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour, including women and children. The Committee was equally concerned by information according to which police personnel and government agents would be involved in the trafficking, and by the absence of efficient mechanisms to protect witnesses and victims.

Among its recommendations, the Committee encouraged the State party to create a sound and coordinated database, in line with all aspects of the Convention, including reliable and updated systematic data as a tool for effective migration policy and for the application of the various provisions of the Convention. The Committee urged the State party to intensify training for all officials working in the area of migration, in particular police and border personnel, judges, prosecutors, as well as officials at the local level dealing with migrant workers. It also encouraged the State party to ensure continuous access by migrant workers to information about their rights under the Convention. It recommended that the State party ensure that in legislation and in practice migrant workers and members of their families, including those in an irregular situation, had the same rights as nationals of the State party to file complaints and to obtain effective redress before the courts, including the labour courts. In terms of human trafficking, the Committee recommended that the State party allocate sufficient financial and human resources to implement national strategies to combat trafficking, including child trafficking; to apply measures, at the national and international levels, to dismantle trafficking networks; and to vigorously prosecute labour trafficking offenders and public officials who participate or facilitate human trafficking.
Ecuador

The Committee welcomed the State party's efforts to promote and protect the rights of Ecuadorian migrant workers abroad and welcomed the adoption of ten partnerships and agreements that were signed by September 2009 as well as the signing of the Statute of Permanent Migration between Ecuador and Peru, whose goal was the regularization of Peruvian and Ecuadorian migrant workers in each country. The Committee also noted with appreciation the regularization of about 400 Haitians in the State party following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The Committee welcomed the ratification of the following international human rights instruments: the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Protocol in 2008; the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2009; and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2009.

The Committee reiterated its concern about discrimination, exclusion and exploitation suffered by migrant women in the State party as well as the lack of access to employment rights and benefits, especially for migrant domestic workers. It also noted with concern that in most cases women lacked access to jobs commensurate with their level of training, due to discrimination as well as legal constraints. The Committee regretted the lack of information on the inclusion of a gender perspective in the State party’s migration policies. The Committee also expressed concern that people in an irregular situation who were deprived of their liberty were held in prisons or in provisional detention centres in overcrowded and inadequate conditions, without access to basic social services. The Committee regretted the considerable number of people at risk, particularly migrant children, of prostitution in the region of Lago Agrio, despite the State party's efforts to eradicate trafficking in persons and commercial sexual exploitation. The Committee also remained concerned about the participation of migrant children and adolescents in domestic work in conditions that were comparable to a contemporary form of slavery, as well as dangerous work in garbage dumps and the mining industry. The Committee was also concerned about the prohibition of foreigners joining trade unions.

The Committee encouraged the State party to continue its efforts to protect women domestic workers, including access to regular migration status, a systematic involvement of the labor authorities in monitoring their working conditions and the promotion of access to mechanisms for bringing complaints against employers. The Committee recommended that Ecuador take measures to improve conditions in temporary detention centers where people in an irregular situation were held, and to ensure that they were not the same as prisons and to house men and women separately. The Committee also suggested that the State party ensure that basic social services, including food, hygiene and health, were offered in such facilities. In terms of trafficking and exploitation of children, the Committee reiterated its previous recommendation and urged the State party to: strengthen all agencies of the National System for Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents, including the appropriate allocation of human and financial resources; promote public awareness in general about the harmful effects of all forms of sexual exploitation of minors for commercial purposes, including child prostitutions; and establish mechanisms for the physical and psychological recovery and social integration of victims. In terms of child labour, the Committee suggested the State party redouble its efforts to eradicate the worst forms of child labour and to collect data on the numbers of unaccompanied minor migrant workers in Ecuador and the type of work they performed.

Senegal

With regard to the initial report of Senegal, the Committee noted with satisfaction that the Convention was incorporated in the State party’s national jurisdiction, that it held superiority over domestic laws, and that State institutions applied its provisions. The Committee noted with interest the adoption of law number 2005-06 of 10 May 2005 relating to fighting human trafficking and the protection of victims; and the creation of the Ministry of Senegalese Living Abroad which aimed to give assistance to Senegalese living abroad and to develop policies to facilitate their return to Senegal. The Committee congratulated the State party for ratifying the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants By Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in 2003; and the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on children and armed conflict, and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, respectively in 2009 and 2006.

On principal subjects of concern and recommendations, the Committee noted that the State party had not yet ratified International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions: No. 97 on Migration for Employment (1949), and No.143 on Migrations in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions). It encouraged Senegal to ratify the two ILO conventions. The Committee noted with concern the absence of statistical information on migratory movements, in particular statistics concerning economic migration to Senegal and Senegalese expatriates. It strongly encouraged the State party to create a solid data base disaggregated by sex, age and origin, to allow all to better comprehend the migratory context and the situation of migrant workers in Senegal, including those who were in an irregular situation. The Committee was concerned that the rights of irregular migrant workers, migrant workers working in the informal sector and transiting migrant workers were not fully respected. It was also concerned that migrant workers in the formal sector were not treated equally with Senegalese workers with regard to social security, in particular concerning pensions. The Committee recommended that the State party take the necessary measures to ensure that all migrants were treated equally, and that it treated migrant workers and Senegalese workers equally, especially regarding social security and pensions.

Other subjects of concern included that the Committee was worried about migrant workers in irregular situations being placed in detention with persons accused of crimes, and that youth were not separated from adults. The Committee recommended that Senegal take the necessary measures to ensure that migrant workers in irregular situations were detained as a last resort, and that under all circumstances, detention was applied in conformity to articles 16 and 17 (2) of the Convention. The Committee noted with concern that more than half the children begging on the streets of Dakar came from neighbouring countries, and that the State party had not adopted concrete measures to end regional trafficking in children for the purpose of begging. The Committee encouraged the State party to put in place, in cooperation with concerned countries, all necessary measures to fight trafficking in children from neighbouring countries for the purpose of begging. The Committee noted with interest that the State party had reinforced the capabilities of its security forces along its borders. It recommended that Senegal make available adequate human and financial resources to work inspectors and to give all personnel appropriate training, including on the Convention, so that their work was accomplished in full respect of the rights of migrant workers.

Members of the Committee

The members of the Committee are Francisco Alba (Mexico); José Serrano Brillantes (Philippines); Francisco Carrion Mena (Ecuador); Ana Elizabeth Cubías Medina (El Salvador); Fatoumata Abdourhamana Dicko (Mali); Ahmed Hassan El-Borai (Egypt); Abdelhamid El-Jamri (Morocco); Miguel Angel Ibarra Gonzalez (Guatemala); Prasad Kariyawasam (Sri Lanka); Andrea Miller-Stennett (Jamaica); Myriam Poussi Konsimbo (Burkina Faso); Mehmet Sevim (Turkey); and Azad Taghizade (Azerbaijan); Ahmadou Tall (Senegal).

Mr. El-Jamri is the Chairperson. The Vice-Chairpersons are Mr. Brillantes, Ms. Cubias Medina and Mr. Taghizade. The Rapporteur is Mr. El-Borai.

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