On the occasion of International Migrants Day, Corien Jonker (Netherlands, EPP/CD), Chair of the Migration Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), made the following statement today:
“Migrants are a vital source of economic growth for all our countries. However, far too many of the 200 million migrants all over the world continue to experience assaults on their rights, abominable labour conditions, discrimination, exploitation and even violence. This should not be tolerated.
In the current economic crisis, where states are imposing tighter restrictions on immigration and harsher measures to combat irregular migration, migrants are in a particularly vulnerable position: they are the hardest hit by the loss of jobs, which can affect their legal residence status and their ability to send remittances. The loss of legal status puts an increasing number of well-integrated migrants into an irregular situation and makes them even more vulnerable to trafficking, exploitation, detention and deportation. Migrants are also increasingly subject to scapegoating, increasing anti-immigrant and xenophobic attitudes in our societies.
I am particularly concerned about the growing number of female migrants in an irregular situation. A significant number of these women are hidden within private households, vulnerable to sexual abuse, rape and slave-like working conditions. They have no means for protection as they cannot turn to the authorities out of fear of detention and expulsion. International Migrants Day is an occasion to recall the importance of recognising and respecting the human rights and dignity of all migrants, regardless of their status, and to renew our call on European states to ratify the UN Migrant Workers Convention as well as the Council of Europe Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers.
This year’s International Migrants Day coincides with the United Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen. It is estimated that 25 million people around the world have suffered from forced displacement due to the devastating effects of climate change, more than those fleeing from war. This number is expected to go up to 250 million in less than 50 years. The movements of persons who are compelled to move as a consequence of natural disasters and other environmental events caused by global warming will be among the major challenges facing countries in the decades to come. This is an unprecedented global challenge which requires innovative responses and human-rights-based policies. We have to make sure that the protection of the rights of those compelled to move due to environmental degradation will become the heart of global policy and action commitments.”