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Statement on interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants

Thank you Mr President. Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Coalition of African Lesbians, the Sexual Rights Initiative and Lawyers for Human Rights. 

We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s report on the impact of migration on migrant women and girls, particularly the reiteration that experiences of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and oppression act both as a driver of women’s migration and as a marker of migrant women’s reception in countries of destination. Women and girls who choose to exercise their freedom of movement, are often denied their sexual and reproductive health and rights across the board, are regularly subjected to sexual violence, and are trafficked for care and domestic labour in their attempts to migrate. Their ability to access services and justice are encumbered by the systemic failure by destination countries to prioritise migrants’ human rights over the implementation of populist immigration policies.

We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s continued affirmation of the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and non-hierarchical nature of rights, and for the need for “firewall” protections between public services and immigration authorities. There should alse be a firewall between immigration authorities and public and private sector employers, as migrant women often engage in work marked by precarity – including sex work, which in many jurisdictions is criminalised, with their migration status a possible source of exploitation on several grounds. 

We also welcome the acknowledgement that the conditions in which migrants are often received and detained could amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, in the face of the creation of concentration camps to hold migrants in some States, and the decision to no longer rescue distressed migrants in the Mediterranean Sea in others. In the analysis of the restrictions on the freedom of movement of women and girls from the Global South, with destinations in the Global North, it is important to also actively analyse and assess the impact of racism on the creation of immigration policies and the characterisaton of a “crisis of migration” in the North. This racism, the continued brain drain of Africa, and the de-skilling and subsequent push into domestic and care work migrant women often experience, are all legacies of our shared colonial pasts and components of our neo-colonial present. 

We call on States to meet their human rights obligations towards all migrants, particularly women and girls, ensuring decent living conditions, access to health services including sexual and reproductive health, access to justice, and to enact a complete separation between immigration authorities and public services. 

Thank you