MANDATE OF THE RAPPORTEURSHIP ON THE RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS

 

On March 30, 2011, during the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights´s 144th Period of Sessions, the Commission agreed to amend the mandate of its Rapporteurship on the Rights of Migrants, led by Commissioner Felipe González. In response to the multiple challenges of human mobility in the region, the new mandate focuses on the respect and guarantee of the rights of migrants and their families, asylum seekers, refugees, complementary protection seekers and beneficiaries, stateless persons, victims of human trafficking, internally displaced persons (hereinafter “IDPs”) and other vulnerable groups within the context of human mobility.

 

Human mobility is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon, which includes, inter alia, the situation of migrants and their families, asylum seekers, refugees, complementary protection seekers and beneficiaries, stateless persons and victims of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants and internally displaced persons.[1] For decades, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has monitored these issues through case reports, precautionary measures, country visits and thematic and country reports. In 1996, the Commission created the Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Members of their Families in response to the multiple challenges of human mobility in the region

 

Mixed migration flows in the region are characterized by migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, other persons in need of international protection, stateless persons and victims of human trafficking. The categories of migrants are diverse and differ, among other reasons, based on whether their immigration status is regular or irregular, as well as the reasons that led to their migration, as is the case of those who migrate for economic, political or environmental reasons.

 

Since its early years, the Commission has given particular attention to the situation of refugees in the hemisphere, such as the mass exodus of refugees from the Caribbean in the 1960s, especially after the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Subsequently, the human rights challenges that military dictatorships created in the 1970s throughout the Southern Cone tested the responsiveness of the IACHR regarding the protection of refugees. During the 1980s, civil wars in Central America posed similar challenges for the Commission.

 

  Over the years, the Commission has continued to follow the main challenges faced by asylum seekers, refugees and other persons in need of international protection in terms of human rights law and international refugee law. Examples of the IACHR’s work on these issues include, but are not limited to, the Report on the Situation of Human Rights of Asylum Seekers within the Canadian Refugee Determination System, the Report on Access to Justice and Social Inclusion: The Way Towards Strengthening Democracy in Bolivia, the Progress Reports of the Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and the recent Report on Immigration in the United States: Detention and Due Process.

 

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (hereinafter “UNHCR”), it is estimated that in the Americas there are currently more than 500,000 refugees, approximately 300,000 persons in a situation similar to that of refugees and nearly 130,000 pending decisions on asylum claims. While these groups of persons are almost entirely found in American countries, they are mainly in the United States, Venezuela, Canada and Ecuador.

 

Although most attention on migration focuses on international migration, human mobility also poses great challenges in terms of internal migration. Currently most migration occurs internally within the States. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), there are approximately 740 million persons worldwide who are internal migrants, meaning there is nearly four times the number of internal migration as there are international migrants. Beyond the unique challenges involved in internal migration, forced internal displacement poses greater challenges for the fulfillment of human rights. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (hereinafter “IDMC”) estimated that in 2010, there were approximately 5.4 million internally displaced persons as result of armed conflict, generalized violence and gross human rights violations in the Americas. Internal displacement has continually and stably grown over the last decade.

 

Some of the most pressing challenges generated by human mobility in terms of human rights violations include: the criminalization of irregular migrants; the situations that arise in mixed migration flows, the denial of judicial protection and due process in immigration proceedings, and violence and gross human rights violations generated by non-state actors such as organized crime organizations, drug cartels, gangs (maras) or paramilitary groups. Moreover, some countries have introduced reforms or bills related to their Refugee Determination Systems, which are intended to restrict access to international protection for asylum seekers, refugees and complementary protection seekers or beneficiaries. Other challenges that occur regarding human mobility in the hemisphere relate to the persecution and violence that other vulnerable groups such as women, children, lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex (LGTBI) persons, afro-descendants and indigenous peoples are subject to. Also, migration as a result of climate change, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and internal displacement are other challenges for the protection of human rights.

 

Given the above mentioned, the extension of the mandate of the Rapporteurship would serve to institutionalize a tacit practice that in recent years has become part or the Rapporteurship’s work on individual petitions, cases, precautionary and provisional measures and thematic and country reports involving asylum seekers, refugees, complementary protection seekers and stateless persons. It would also serve to reinforce the work that the IACHR has developed historically in the protection of human rights of other vulnerable groups in the context of human mobility, both internationally and internally, for the aforementioned groups of persons and IDPs. In this sense, the new mandate of the Rapporteurship is focused on

 

The respect and guarantee of the rights of migrants and their families, asylum seekers, refugees, complementary protection seekers and beneficiaries, stateless persons, victims of human trafficking, internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups in the context of human mobility. 
 

Contact information

Álvaro Botero Navarro
Rapporteurship on the Rights of Migrants
Tel. (1) 202 458 3831
abotero@oas.org /
cidhmigrantes@oas.org  

Special Rapporteur: The IACHR decided to appoint one of its seven Commissioners as Special Rapporteur on Migrant Workers and Their Families. It was determined that the Special Rapporteur would undertake his/her functions for a four-year period. During its first period (1997-2000) Colombian historian Álvaro Tirado was in charge of the Special Rapporteruship. Subsequently, in 2000 the IACHR designated in the position Argentine jurist and Professor Juan E. Méndez. In February 2004, the IACHR appointed Freddy Gutiérrez Trejo, a Venezuelan attorney and professor, as Special Rapporteur. In 2008, the IACHR appointed the current Rapporteur, Commissioner Felipe González, to a four year term.

  

[1] As part of its 91st Ordinary Period of Sessions, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, recognizing the plight of IDPs in several countries of the continent, decided to create the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and designated to Professor Robert K. Goldman as Rapporteur. The 91st Ordinary Period of Sessions was held from February 21 to March 8, 1996 in Washington, D.C.