Global inaction on human rights is making the world an increasingly dangerous place for refugees and migrants, Amnesty International said as it launched its annual assessment of the world’s human rights. The organisation said that the rights of millions of people who have escaped conflict and persecution, or migrated to seek work and a better life for themselves and their families, have been abused. Governments around the world are accused of showing more interest in protecting their national borders than the rights of their citizens or the rights of those seeking refugee or opportunities within those borders.
“The failure to address conflict situations effectively is creating a global underclass. The rights of those fleeing conflict are unprotected. Too many governments are abusing human rights in the name of immigration control – going well beyond legitimate border control measures,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“These measures not only affect people fleeing conflict. Millions of migrants are being driven into abusive situations, including forced labour and sexual abuse, because of anti-immigration policies which means they can be exploited with impunity. Much of this is fuelled by populist rhetoric that targets refugees and migrants for governments’ domestic difficulties,” said Shetty.
“Refugees and displaced people can no longer be ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Their protection falls to all of us. The borderless world of modern communications makes it increasingly difficult for abuses to be hidden behind national boundaries – and is offering unprecedented opportunities for everyone to stand up for the rights of the millions uprooted from their homes,” said Shetty.
Refugees who were able to reach other countries seeking asylum often found themselves in the same boat – literally and figuratively – as migrants leaving their countries to seek a better life for themselves and their families. Many are forced to live in the margins of society, failed by ineffective laws and policies, and allowed to be the targets of the kind of populist, nationalist rhetoric that stokes xenophobia and increases the risk of violence against them.
The rights of huge numbers of the world’s 214 million migrants were not protected by their home or their host state. Millions of migrants worked in conditions amounting to forced labour - or in some cases slavery-like conditions – because governments treated them like criminals and because corporations cared more about profits than workers’ rights. Undocumented migrants were particularly at risk of exploitation and human rights abuse.
“Those who live outside their countries, without wealth or status, are the world’s most vulnerable people but are often condemned to desperate lives in the shadows,” said Shetty. “A more just future is possible if governments respect the human rights of all people, regardless of nationality. The world cannot afford no-go zones in the global demand for human rights. Human rights protection must be applied to all human beings – wherever they are.”
Source: Amnesty International