COMMITTEE ON PROTECTION OF MIGRANT WORKERS CONCLUDES ITS SEVENTEENTH SESSION
Adopts its Concluding Observations and Recommendations on Reports of Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina
14 September 2012
The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families today concluded its seventeenth session at the Palais Wilson in Geneva after adopting its concluding observations on the measures taken by Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose reports were examined during this session, to implement the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
During the session the Committee continued its discussion, begun in April, on its draft General Comment No. 2, on the rights of migrant workers and members of their families in an irregular situation. The Committee also held a meeting with States parties to the Convention, in which it discussed new planned working methods with them.
In a meeting to close the session, Abdelhamid El Jamri, Committee Chairperson, began by highlighting that over 200 million migrants, including migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers, permanent immigrants and others, lived and worked in a country to which they were not native, and represented about three per cent of the world population. Mr. El Jamri said that during the session the Committee adopted a statement on the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on treaty body strengthening. It had also adopted a decision on the “Addis Ababa guidelines”, on the independence and impartiality of members of human rights treaty bodies, although he noted that Article 72 of the Convention already emphasized the integrity and impartiality of the members of the Committee. A policy document, which requested extra funding to accommodate changes made to the Committee’s working methods, was also adopted. The new working methods involved development of a calendar and schedule based on a five-year review cycle for States parties, and also requested an extra week-long session for the Committee per year.
The Chairperson expressed satisfaction with the dialogues held with delegations from Rwanda and from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He reported that the 18 States that participated in the Committee’s meeting with States parties had received the new working methods presented to them favourably and had noted their satisfaction with the Committee and its work. During that meeting States parties were strongly encouraged to promote ratification of the Convention in their respective regions. Finally, Mr. El Jamri said that the Committee held a meeting with the International Trade Union Confederation, which attracted the attention of experts on the situation of migrant workers in Qatar, especially in the context of the construction of stadiums and facilities for the Football (soccer) World Cup, which would be held there in 2022.
The eighteenth session of the Committee will be held from 15 to 26 April 2013 at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, when the Committee will consider reports from Colombia, Bolivia and Azerbaijan, and review Uruguay, Belize, and Ghana in the absence of a report, as per its new working methods. The Committee will also adopt lists of issues to be addressed for the future consideration of the reports of Morocco and Sri Lanka. During that session the Committee will hold a general one-day debate on the use of statistics in drafting migration policy reports.
In its concluding observations and recommendations on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Committee noted with satisfaction new legislation in the State party, but recommended that it harmonize legislation in order to ensure that migrant workers fully enjoyed the rights enshrined in the Convention, especially in the areas of employment, education and social security. It also urged the State party to facilitate the exercise of voting rights of Bosnian nationals working abroad in time for the next general elections in 2014.
In its concluding observations and recommendations on Rwanda, the Committee noted with satisfaction the adoption of a national employment policy and of legislative and policy measures concerning migration. It regretted the lack of detailed statistics and information on most of the questions relating to migration and on the number of Rwandan migrant workers and members of their families living outside the country. It recommended that the State party include in its next periodic report, due by 1 October 2017, data disaggregated by sex, age, nationality and grounds of expulsion on migrant workers and members of their families expelled from Rwanda since 2008.
The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations Rwanda and on Bosnia and Herzegovina and other documentation will be posted on its webpage.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In its concluding observations on the second periodic report of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Committee noted with appreciation the adoption of legislative measures, such as the amendments of Articles 186 and 189 of the Criminal Code on the definition of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, the adoption of the new Strategy on Migration and Asylum and the related Action Plan for 2012-2015. It expressed satisfaction with the ratification by Bosnia and Herzegovina of a number of international treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International Labour Organization Convention concerning private employment agencies.
The Committee remained concerned about the lack of harmonization in the legislation of the different entities in certain areas of the Convention, such as employment, education and social security, the lack of data on the number of Bosnian citizens working abroad, and the lack of statistics on the number, employment, situation and access to basic services of migrant workers and members of their families in an irregular situation. The Committee said that it was necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina to take all necessary steps to ensure access by migrant workers and members of their families to information about their rights under the Convention and to continue its cooperation with Migrant Service Centres and civil society organizations in promoting and disseminating the Convention among all relevant stakeholders. The Committee also recommended that Bosnia and Herzegovina harmonize its anti-discrimination legal framework within a clearly defined timeframe. It recommended that it include in its next periodic report detailed information on the application of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination in relation to migrant workers. The Committee expressed concern that children of migrant workers, including Roma children, were often not registered at birth, which impeded their access to health care, social benefits and education.
The Committee reiterated its concern about the lack of information provided by the delegation on the policies in place to ensure the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the State party on the readmission of persons residing without authorization. It also expressed concern about the lack of procedural safeguards concerning decisions on detention under the Law on Movement and Stay of Aliens and Asylum. The Committee recommended that the State party ensure that migrant workers who had been deprived of their citizenship be given access to effective legal remedies in order to give their defence as to why they should not be expelled to a third country. In light of the general elections due to be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014, the Committee recommended that the State party increase its efforts to facilitate the exercise of the voting rights of Bosnian nationals working abroad. It also urged the State party to intensify its efforts to involve civil society organizations in the preparation of the third periodic report, due by 1 October 2017.
In its concluding observations on the initial report of Rwanda, the Committee welcomed the first report of the State party, despite its late submission, the constructive dialogue it had had with the delegation, and the replies and additional information which were provided by the delegation. It expressed satisfaction with the adoption of a national employment policy and of legislative and policy measures concerning migration, and noted with appreciation the conclusion by Rwanda of double taxation agreements with several countries. The Committee also welcomed the ratification by Rwanda of several core international human rights instruments.
The Committee regretted the lack of information and detailed statistics on most of the questions relating to migration and the lack of information on the number of Rwandan migrant workers and members of their families who were living outside of Rwanda, including those in an irregular situation. It recommended that the State party ensure that migrant workers and members of their families were given the same legal rights as Rwandan nationals to lodge complaints about violations of their fundamental rights. The Committee expressed concern about reports that children from neighbouring countries were subjected to forced labour in Rwanda. It also noted with concern reports that Rwandan children were being recruited and sent to neighbouring countries where they were forced to work as agricultural labourers or were subjected to domestic slavery or prostitution. It urged the State party to take effective measures to combat trafficking in persons and to protect the victims of trafficking.
The Committee noted with concern that Rwanda had criminalized a number of immigration-related offences by migrant workers. It also expressed concern at the fact that migrants arrested for immigration offences were detained with persons who had committed offences under common law, and urged the State party to protect the rights of migrant workers in the informal sector, particularly those employed in domestic service. It also recommended that the State party take all necessary measures to ensure that children of migrant workers in an irregular situation had access to education on the basis of equality of treatment with Rwandan nationals. The Committee recommended that, in its next periodic report, the State party include data disaggregated by sex, age, nationality and grounds of expulsion on migrant workers and members of their families expelled from Rwanda since 2008. It also requested Rwanda include in its next report report, which was due by 1 October 2017, detailed information on action taken to follow up on the recommendations made in these concluding observations.
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