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Round Table on Migration, Xenophobia and Racial Discrimination

June 03, 2006 15:00

Suggestions for Draft Recommendations

 Round Table on Migration, Xenophobia and Racial Discrimination

In recognizing with regret that the issues of migration and asylum were not a part of the agenda of this year's G8, the roundtable encourages the member states of the G8 to place these issues and the related issue of rising xenophobia on the agenda of the G8 Summit to be held in Germany in 2007.

  • Civil Forum participants call upon G-8 heads to respect the human rights of migrants, victims of trafficking and refugees, irrespective of their legal status, and to strengthen asylum systems.
  • Civil Forum Participants note that refugees are forced to search protection as a result of human rights violations in their countries of origin. The root causes of forced migration should be addressed before durable solutions for the majority of refugees in the world can be found. Political and economic relations between states cannot be used as an excuse for inaction when human rights violations take place. Solving root causes of migration must be a particular responsibility of the G-8 states. We call upon heads of G-8 states to solve the root causes of migration through close co-operation with UNHCR, other UN agencies and NGOs.
  • Civil Forum participants remind G-8 heads of governments that the right to asylum is a fundamental human right enshrined in article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Participants call upon G8 countries to fully respect refugee rights as enshrined in the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
  • Participants wish to highlight the fact that refugees and migrants themselves are oftetn forced to risk their lives as a result of measures to control migration. States have a legitimate right to manage their borders but methods employed to prevent unauthorised entry of migrants must allow for the human rights of all groups to be respected, including access to asylum procedures for those seeking protection.
  • Participants call upon G8 leaders to ensure persons in need of international protection are recognised as refugees on the basis of a full and inclusive interpretation of the refugee definition [and in accordance with fair procedures that provide for legal advice and representation, access to interpretation and the right to suspensive appeal].
  • Civil Forum participants note that current practise relating to the detention of asylum seekers in G8 states leads to cases whereby refugees and migrants are not protected from torture, cruel or degrading treatment. G8 states must take measures to ensure that in full compliance with customary international law and the principle of non-refoulement, no one is expulsed or extradited to a country where they might be at risk of grave human rights violations.
  • We urge states to respect the principle of responsibility sharing and act to ensure the high quality of protection by implementing measures to strengthen protection capacity in countries with less developed asylum systems. Measures that allow states to shift their responsibilities to other states, such as safe third country agreements and the Dublin II regulation in the EU, should be modified.
  • Civil Forum Participants remind G8 leaders of the civilian, humanitarian character of asylum, which should not become a source of tension between states even in those cases when the country of origin is a G8 country.
  • Civil Forum participants also urge the leaders of G8 countries to provide political leadership and ensure that refugees and migrants are not discriminated against and that their civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights are fully protected. State and non state actors responsible for perpetrating discriminatory acts targeting refugees and migrants should be held accountable for their actions and be brought to justice.
  • Civil Forum Participants express their serious concern about attempts to create unwarranted links between refugee protection and terrorism and crime.
  • Participants also remind G8 leaders of the responsibility of national governments to protect their own citizens, including internally displaced persons (IDPs), and ensure respect of their human rights in compliance with human rights law and the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. We call on the international community to protect IDPs, when are not upheld, as this cannot be considered as an exclusively internal issue of any government.
  • We urge states to look at ways of facilitating legal access to international protection particularly through the use of family reunification, resettlement to third countries where necessary and the right to seek protection at embassies on the territory of their country of residence. This is especially important with regard to those who for one reason or another can not avail themselves of the protection of their state.
  • Human rights are an integral part of any security policy. Society is currently paying a very high price for restrictive migration measures, which are leading to growing levels of bureaucracy, an increase in the numbers of undocumented migrants in G8 states and corruption.

This meeting of the G8 takes place in the context of rising racism, xenophobia, and violence in much of the Global North.  Much of this xenophobia concerns refugees, migrants, people of immigrant origin, and minorities.  Xenophobia is encouraged by factors including fears of terrorism, the marginalization different groups, nationalism, ongoing domestic and international armed conflicts, and deliberate manipulation by some political leaders. 

In this regard, the G8 member states are encouraged to:

Recognize that racism and xenophobia pose a threat to national and international peace and security and to sustained economic development;

Recognize that xenophobia and accompanying racist violence must be addressed through a combination of political action, education, and law enforcement, to include:

  • The elaboration and improvement of criminal law and law-enforcement with respect to violence motivated by discrimination, or hate crime.
  • The creation of transparent and accessible systems of monitoring, reporting, and statistical analysis of hate crimes and incidents and the response to them, drawing upon information and positive experiences from G8 members.
  • Public policies and programs to counter xenophobia and hate crime, including through education.
  • Safeguards to ensure that measures taken to counteract racism and discrimination do not infringe internationally recognized norms of freedom of conscience and expression or be invoked to inhibit the democratic process.
  • Commitments by members of the G8 to communicate with other member states where policies regarding xenophobia, migrants, and minorities violate the international obligations of member states.

Recognize the essential role of non-governmental organizations in helping refugees and migrants and in combating racism and xenophobia, including by:

  • Commitments at the highest level to ensure that non-governmental organizations have the freedom of action required to work effectively and independently;
  • High level action to ensure the security of civil society activists who help refugees and migrants and those who stand against xenophobia and extreme nationalist and racist groups.

Civil Forum participants call on governments recognize the competence and experience of NGOs and to actively co-operate with them on these issues.