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Argument: Protecting migrant rights is key to human rights

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Supporting quotations

Irene Khan. "Invisible people, irregular migrants." The Daily Star. June 7th, 2010: "Irregular [or illegal] migrants have become pawns in a game of politics and profits. But they are neither commodities to be exploited nor criminals to be punished. They are human beings with human rights. By offering their labour, they make a valuable contribution to the countries to which they migrate. By sending home their remittances, they support the economies in their own countries. They deserve more recognition and protection."

"Respect migrant rights: ratify the migrant rights treaty." Amnesty International. July 2009: "This campaign demands that governments act immediately to end the widespread human rights violations suffered daily by migrants around the world, by ratifying this core international human rights instrument."

"Saudi Arabia/GCC States: Ratify Migrant Rights Treaty." Human Rights Watch. April 10th, 2003: "The convention guarantees basic human rights to all migrants, including the rights to life, due process, fair trials, and freedom of expression and religion, as well as equal treatment with nationals in respect to economic and social rights."

UNESCO: "The Migrant Workers Convention in Europe: Obstacles to Ratification." 2007: "Even where migrants’ rights have been mentioned in Community documents, there has, by and large, been little recognition that human rights are involved; rather, the dominant image is one of migrant-as-consumer, and the justifi cation of the rights that are to be granted remains most often an economic one. Perhaps most strikingly in this regard, the proposed General Framework Directive for 2007, which will lay out the basic rights to which non- EU migrant workers are entitled to within the Union (and which will thus go some way to addressing the ambiguities created by the Long-Term Residents Directive over the rights available to regular workers who do not qualify for the more privileged status) will, it seems, decline to deal in any manner whatsoever with what rights – if any – must be made available within the EU even to those who enter or remain irregularly. The refusal to confront this issue alone puts EU law at odds with the human rights philosophy underpinning the ICRMW.

This part of the report concludes with examination of the support for the ICRMW within European institutions. The earliest manifestation of this was in a Commission Communication of 1994, which explicitly recognised the importance of a rights-based approach in the construction of a credible and effective migration policy, particularly in terms of restricting irregular migration, and which called upon Member States to ratify the ICRMW as a means of giving practical expression to this goal. This, however, has not proved as signifi cant as it might have, in that none of the Member States have followed the course of action recommended; moreover, it represents the one and only time that the Commission has engaged in any serious manner with the ICRMW. Indeed, more recent remarks by Commissioners suggest that the Commission has since adopted a negative approach to the Convention."

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