Trafficking versus Migrant Smuggling Legal Definition of “Trafficking in Persons” “… the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purposes of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.” Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Article 3(a).
Legal Definition of “Smuggling of Migrants” “… the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.” Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Article 3(a).
Coercion required (any initial consent is nullified by coercive, deceptive, or abusive actions of traffickers)
Involves ongoing exploitation of victims (post-arrival) to generate illicit profits for traffickers
Not afforded victim status under international law
Sarnata Reynolds – Amnesty Internacional – Refugee Program
PROTECTING REFUGEES THROUGH THE RECOGNITION
OF MIGRANTS’ RIGHTS The Refugee Program of Amnesty International USA would like to thank the Organization of American States for the invitation to share with you some observations and proposals in support of the Inter-American Program for the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants, and refugees as a sub-set of that population.
Amnesty International is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that was founded in 1961. It is a worldwide movement of almost 2 million members, with more than 350,000 throughout the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.
My presentation has three parts. First, I would like to explain Amnesty International’s position on the rights of migrants and refugees. Second, I would like to provide some recommendations for how the Organization of American States and its partners may take a more meaningful role in developing and protecting the rights of refugees specifically, and migrants more generally. Finally, I would like to point out eight key steps in furtherance of all migrants’ human rights.
Amnesty International’s Position on Migrants’ Rights
Every day people make decisions to leave their homes, communities and countries. Some leave because they are afraid - afraid for their lives, and for the lives of their children and loved ones. Others leave because their social or economic situation has compelled them to do so.
The promise of a better standard of living for their families pushes many people into irregular migration, if legal avenues are not available to them. Every year thousands die while trying to reach other countries.
Amnesty International is concerned about the human rights of all migrants. AI looks at the "life-cycle" of migration: the decision to leave the country of origin; the migratory journey, including time spent in countries of transit; arrival and stay in the country of destination; and possible return back to the country of origin. Through this life-cycle, AI focuses on the situations during which migrants are most vulnerable to abuse, and on those individuals or groups of individuals most at risk – including refugees, irregular, or undocumented migrants, migrant children and migrant women.
Migrants are sometimes characterized by politicians and the media as criminals, economic burdens, security threats and even a risk to public health. The reality is, however, that many economies have come to rely on migrants who are prepared to work in degrading and dangerous jobs with little security and low wages.
This unrecognized, unappreciated, and undervalued workforce now drives a significant part of the global economy. A migrant worker is increasingly viewed as a commodity or a unit of labor, a "temporary service provider" who can be shuttled around the world at will. This attitude lacks any recognition of a migrant worker’s human rights.
Developing and Protecting the Rights of Refugees and Migrants
In the year 2006, many OAS member states took significant steps to develop national and regional approaches toward educating immigration officials on migrant issues and providing avenues to protect refugees at and within their borders.
Still, much work must be completed to ensure that refugees are identified and provided with the assistance they require to begin the process of healing and integration in their host countries. Moreover, countries must ensure that migrants flowing in are provided with opportunities to gain legal status and avoid exploitation, and that those being deported are afforded a fair hearing prior to their departure.
If apprehended at the United States border, for instance, migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, are often detained and denied the ability to communicate with family, friends or legal counsel before their expedited removal.13 In theory, migrants who fear return to their home countries are provided with the opportunity to state a claim for protection, but in reality this is often not the case.14 While OAS member states have the authority to determine how best to monitor and secure their borders, migrants should not be shuffled back and forth in a demeaning, and sometimes dehumanizing, fashion.
Similarly, determining how to best monitor and control the movement of migrants while preserving their rights under international law should not be lost in a larger, and different, discussion of national security issues.
For example, through swift passage of anti-terrorism laws in the United States, victims of terrorist organizations and armed militias are labeled material supporters of terrorism, and therefore found ineligible for protection, precisely because they were targeted, tortured and enslaved by the very groups the United States is attempting to exclude.
Having been forced to provide support—no matter how minimal -- does not exempt a person from being found ineligible to enter the United States as a refugee or asylum seeker. As a result, many Colombians forced at the threat of torture or death to provide money to armed militias are identified as material supporters of terrorism and denied the opportunity to resettle in the United States.
Denying protection to refugees and asylum seekers because they were victimized by terrorist organizations does not advance our shared values and violates our obligations under international law.
At the heart of Amnesty International’s agenda for migrants’ rights is a call to treat all migrants with full respect for their human rights and human dignity. Strategies are needed to counter the misinformation, prejudice and fear that all too often characterize discussion of migration issues amongst decision-makers and the general public. Raising public awareness on the basis of well-informed and balanced arguments is a vital part of the human rights agenda on migrants’ rights. A successful campaign also requires coalitions to be built with migrants and their communities, non-governmental organizations, and others working to protect and promote migrants’ rights.
3. Eight Key Priorities Amnesty International calls on the OAS and its partners to concentrate on eight key priority areas when promoting all migrants’ rights:
1. Call for migration policies that protect human rights.
2. Focus on those migrants most at risk – refugees, irregular migrants, migrant women and migrant children.
3. Call for more research and better data on the movement of people and the particular obstacles they face when crossing borders for protection, work and other reasons.
4. Call for ratification and implementation of core human rights and labor rights treaties, in particular the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (the Migrant Workers’ Convention).
5. Demand greater accountability of state and non-state actors at international, regional and national levels.
6. Place migrants and their communities at the centre of debates on migration; recognize and ensure their role in formulating and implementing strategies to protect their rights.
7. Protect human rights defenders working to protect and promote the human rights of migrants.
8. Increase public awareness of migrants’ rights and migrants’ positive contributions to society.