Committee on Rights of Migrant workers holds sixteenth session in Geneva from 16 to 27 April 2012

BACKGROUND RELEASE

12 April 2012

Will hear address by High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and review reports of Paraguay and Tajikistan

The sixteenth session of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families will be held at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 16 to 27 April 2012. During its two week session, the Committee will review efforts by Paraguay and Tajikistan to implement their obligations under the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and make recommendations to these countries.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, will open the session on Monday, 16 April. During that meeting the Committee will also elect officers, adopt its agenda and hear from national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations, and United Nations agencies in relation to the country reports to be reviewed at the session. That afternoon the Committee will begin its consideration of the initial report of Paraguay, which will continue on the morning of Tuesday, 17 April.

The Committee will consider the initial report of Tajikistan on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. Informal meetings will be held with non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions on the afternoon of Wednesday 18 April and the morning of Monday 23 April. The Committee will meet in closed session for the rest of the time, until the public closing on Friday, 17 April.

Background


More than 190 million migrants, including migrant workers, refugees, asylum-seekers, permanent immigrants and others, live and work in a country other than that of their birth or citizenship. They represent almost three per cent of the world's population.

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families entered into force on 1 July 2003. The Convention seeks to play a role in preventing and eliminating the exploitation of migrant workers as well as ensuring the protection of their human rights throughout the entire migration process. It provides a set of binding international standards to address the treatment, welfare and human rights of both documented and undocumented migrants, as well as the obligations and responsibilities on the part of sending and receiving States and States of transit. To date, 45 States have ratified the treaty.

The Committee of 14 Experts was created to monitor how States parties to the Convention abide by their obligations under the treaty. States parties accept the obligation to report to the Committee on the steps they have taken to implement the Convention. States must report initially within a year of its entry into force for the State concerned, and thereafter every five years. So far, the Committee has examined the initial reports of eighteen States parties: Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Albania, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mali, Mexico, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Syria. It has also reviewed the second periodic reports of Ecuador and Mexico. Currently, the reports of Tajikistan and Paraguay are awaiting examination by the Committee. The reports of 26 other States parties are now overdue.

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families


The Convention is applicable to all migrant workers and members of their families without distinction of any kind such as sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth or other status. It applies during the entire migration process of migrant workers and members of their families, which comprises preparation for migration, departure, transit and the entire period of stay and remunerated activity in the State of employment as well as return to the State of origin or the State of habitual residence.

Listed among their human rights, the Convention states that migrant workers and members of their families shall be free to leave any State, including their State of origin; migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right at any time to enter and remain in their State of origin; the right to life of migrant workers and members of their families shall be protected by law; no migrant worker or member of his or her family shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; no migrant worker or member of his or her family shall be held in slavery or servitude; and no migrant worker or member of his or her family shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour. The Convention also prohibits collective expulsion of migrant workers and members of their families. It further establishes that migrant workers shall enjoy treatment not less favourable than that which applies to nationals of the State of employment in respect of remuneration and other conditions of work and terms of employment. Moreover, migrant workers in a regular situation enjoy the right to form associations and trade unions as well as equality of treatment with the nationals of the State in relation to access to educational, social and health services.

The Convention also imposes a series of obligations on States parties in the interest of promoting "sound, equitable, humane and lawful conditions" for the international migration of workers and members of their families. These requirements include the establishment of policies on migration; the exchange of information with other States parties; the provision of information to employers, workers and their organizations on policies, laws and regulations; and assistance to migrant workers and their families.

Implementation of the Convention


The Convention is monitored by the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, consisting of 14 Experts serving in a personal capacity.

States parties accept the obligation to report on the steps they have taken to implement the Convention within a year of its entry into force for the State concerned, and thereafter every five years. Under the treaty, a State party may also recognize the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of individuals within that State's jurisdiction who claim that their rights under the Convention have been violated. So far, Guatemala and Mexico have recognized the Committee’s competence in this respect.

Other International Mechanisms for Protection of Migrants


The Convention reinforces other measures already taken by the United Nations to ensure adequate protection of all migrant workers and their families. The International Labour Organization has been in the forefront of efforts to secure and maintain a fair deal for migrant workers and their families since the 1920s. A Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council looks at ways and means to overcome obstacles to the full and effective protection of the human rights of migrants, including difficulties for the return of those who are "undocumented".

States Parties to the Convention


The Convention was adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by the General Assembly in December 1990. To date, it has been ratified or acceded to by the following 45 States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Syria, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Uganda and Uruguay.

Members of the Committee


The members of the Committee are Francisco Alba (Mexico); José S. Brillantes (Philippines); Francisco Carrion Mena (Ecuador); Ana Elizabeth Cubias 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 (Burkina Faso); Mehmet Sevim (Turkey); Azad Taghizadet (Azerbaijan); and Ahmadou Tall (Senegal).

Abdelhamid El Jamri is the Committee Chairperson; José Brillantes, Ana Elizabeth Cubias Medina, and Azad Taghizadet are the Vice-Chairpersons; and Ahmed Hassan El-Borai is the Committee Rapporteur.

Programme of Work (public meetings)

Monday, 16 April

10 a.m. Opening of session, address by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, election of officers, adoption of agenda and
meeting with non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, United Nations bodies and specialized agencies.

3 p.m. Consideration of the initial report of Paraguay (CMW/C/PRY/1)

Tuesday, 17 April


10 a.m. Consideration of the initial report of Paraguay (continued)

3 p.m. Consideration of the initial report of Tajikistan (CMW/C/TJK/1)

Wednesday, 18 April


10 a.m. Tajikistan (continued)

4 p.m. Informal meeting with non-governmental organizations and national
human rights institutions.

Monday, 23 April


12:30 p.m. Informal meeting with non-governmental organizations and national
human rights institutions.

Friday, 27 April

12 p.m. (TBC) Closing of the session.

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For use of the information media; not an official record