Peace Brigades International statements affirming the human right to migration

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Democracy Now!

On January 19, Democracy Now! reported on Honduran migrants experiencing military and police violence in Guatemala and then on the separation of migrant families in Mexico due to the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

That can be found starting at the 15:20 mark of that day’s broadcast (at the 16:36 mark there is footage of the PBI-Mexico accompanied Saltillo Migrant Shelter).

There are currently several thousand Honduran migrants trying to make their way through Guatemala on their way to Mexico and then the United States.

This week, PBI-Honduras posted: “Migration is a global issue, which increases year after year. Migrants are people who must be given guarantees of their human rights.”

Their post links to this United Nations statement that notes: “Between 2000 and 2020, the number of people displaced across international borders while fleeing conflict, persecution, violence or human rights violations doubled from 17 million to 34 million.”

PBI-Guatemala also just posted this article from Prensa Libre and highlighted the quote from Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsperson Jordan Rodas who has stated: “[Migrants] flee social inequality, poverty and violence, and cannot be subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment on Guatemalan territory.”

And last year PBI-Mexico highlighted: “While migration is a right enshrined in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it continues to be violated by a variety of actors. Attacks against human rights defenders of migrants show the criminalization of migration in Mexico and the region, as well as the constant violation of the right to defend human rights, despite being an obligation of the Mexican State.”

And PBI-Canada has posted several articles including this one that highlight the human rights implications of the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement.

That agreement means that Canadian officials can return a migrant seeking asylum at a border checkpoint (given the US is considered a safe third country).

In contrast, the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees means that asylum seekers entering Canada between border checkpoints are not automatically deported and may make asylum claims.

On July 22, 2020, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the Safe Third Country Agreement violated the human rights of asylum seekers and was thus unconstitutional. Unfortunately, by August the Government of Canada had filed an appeal of the ruling (that would have effectively voided the agreement this month).

Significantly, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has now also ruled: “The effects of climate change in receiving states may expose individuals to a violation of their rights … thereby triggering the non-refoulement obligations of sending states.”

In response, Mitchell Goldberg, a volunteer with PBI-Guatemala in 1989-90 who later co-founded the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, has stated the Canadian government will need to take urgent policy and legislative action to account for the “very threatening new reality” of forced migration due to climate change.

For more, please see The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights statement: Migration and Human Rights.

Categories: News Updates


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