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Protection of Migrant Rights: UN, NHRC Call for Holistic Approach

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Protection of Migrant Rights: UN, NHRC Call for Holistic Approach

By: Michael Mike

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights(OHCHR)
have called for an holistic approach to protect the rights of migrants.

The call was made on Monday in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the two-day training on human rights and migration, organised by the United Nations in Nigeria for staff of the NHRC.

The training titled: “PROMIS-Protection of Migrants” is aimed at strengthening capacities of West African states, develop human rights-based responses to smuggling of migrants and combat rights violations.

The Executive-Secretary of NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, in his remarks, described the PROMIS – Protection of Migrants project as relevant in efforts to tackle issues related to violation of the rights of migrants.

He said the training would provide NHRC personnel with understanding of international human rights frameworks, treaties and regional instruments relevant to human rights at international borders and specific human rights challenges faced by individuals at international borders.

He added that the need to adopt a human rights-based approach to migration management has been underscored by the multiple thematic and sectoral interests that converge in migration management.

Ojukwu said: “In our world today, migrants face dehumanizing conditions, illegal arrests and prolonged detention, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, life threatening conditions on land and sea.

“As we focus on irregular migration and smuggling across our borders, it is important we do not lose sight of trafficking within Nigeria becoming an epidemic.

“As human rights advocates and frontline defenders, staff of the National Human Rights Commission stand on a strong legal and institutional footing to tackle this present and emerging styles of human rights violations.

“I want to pledge that this training programme we are receiving today under the auspices of PROMIS and the OHCHR shall be extended to all our state offices in due course as migration is all encompassing.

“We will continue to work with our partners within and outside the government to strengthen policies, and practices that impact on human rights of migrants, victims of trafficking and smuggling of migrants.”

Ojukwu however decried social, economic and political vulnerabilities such as poverty, inequalities, conflicts, and human insecurity as the major triggers to irregular migration, trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

He said the NHRC Amendment Act of 2010 vested the Commission with wide ranging powers to monitor human rights, conduct investigations on violations, embark upon public interest litigations, conduct research and produce Guidelines and Advisories.

He noted that migration extends to rights to dignity, adequate standard of living, quality health and education amongst others.

Also speaking at the event, Senior Human Rights Adviser, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Adwoa Kufuor-Owusu, lamented that migration related issues have affected countless lives of individuals and communities.

She said although migration could transform societies, economies and individual lives, its challenges could lead to violations of human rights of migrants if not properly managed and safeguarded.

She noted that to manage and safeguard vulnerabilities that might arise in the context of migration, various legal and institutional frameworks were established both at international, regional and national levels.

Kufuor-Owusu said: “We gather not only to deepen understanding of these issues, but to reaffirm our commitment to core human rights principles of dignity, equality and non-discrimination for everyone everywhere, regardless of migratory status.

“It is my privilege to welcome you to this training, to engage in meaningful discussion about topics of utmost significance in today’s globalized world.

“It is my sincere hope that over the two-day training you will seize the opportunity to strengthen your capacity to apply various international and national human rights frameworks to migrants, especially at international borders.

“I equally hope the discussions in this training will allow for reflections on synergies between the NHRC and other stakeholders, for effective promotion and protection of migrants in Nigeria,” Kufuor-Owusu said.

She urged the participants to uphold the training as a platform for open dialogue and mutual learning, where they could draw upon collective wisdom and experiences of diverse groups.

She reiterated the UN’s commitment to collaborate with the NHRC to support Nigeria and enhance the promotion and protection of the rights of migrants, especially migrants in vulnerable situations.

The training was put together under the auspices of the joint initiative by the UN Human Rights Office and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In attendance were 25-NHRC staff across field offices.

Protection of Migrant Rights: UN, NHRC Call for Holistic Approach

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