Comments of the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) and the Scalabrinian International Migration Network (SIMN) on Revision 3 of the Outcome Document for 19th September 2016 High-Level Meeting on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants
July 28, 2016
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the third revised draft of the outcome document. Our comments primarily will focus upon where the document potentially weakens protections for refugees and migrants.
First, we support language condemning xenophobia in paragraph 1.13 of the declaration, including the “stereotypes often applied to them, including on the basis of religion and belief.” Often the flames of xenophobia are fanned through fear tactics by blaming all refugees for the actions of a few. We urge the addition of language in 1.13 and in the comprehensive refugee response framework that rejects attempts to cast all bona fide refugees as terrorists for the purpose of increasing xenophobia and undermining efforts to protect refugees.
We offer the following language to paragraph 1.13, at the appropriate place:
“We deplore attempts to cast all bona fide refugees as threats to security in an effort to fan the flames of xenophobia and to undermine attempts to offer them protection and safe haven.”
In the comprehensive refugee response framework (revision 2), we support the suggested addition by civil society of the following language in Section 5, paragraph 7:
After “host country” insert: “, being mindful not to bolster xenophobic and discriminatory attitudes and actions.”
Referring to paragraph 2.3 of the document, we would encourage the addition of an affirmative statement that member states should refrain from the use of deterrence strategies, including interdiction and return without asylum screening, mandatory detention, and externalization of borders—to stem refugee and migrant movements. Absent an affirmative statement, we strongly support the addition of the following human rights language (in black), as follows:
“Consistent with our obligations under international human rights law and international refugee law, we will strengthen international border management cooperation, including in relation to training and the exchange of best practices. We will intensify support in this area, including in the area of refugee protection, and help build capacity, as appropriate.”
Absent this mitigating language, we believe the sentence beginning, “We will strengthen international border management” combined with the following sentence ending with “to build capacity, as appropriate” sanctions the externalization of borders without corresponding human rights and refugee protections.
We believe language in 2.12 regarding the criminalization of cross-border movements and the use of alternatives to detention should be strengthened, and the language concerning the incarceration of children should be eliminated and replaced.
Please add, and alter to the first sentence, to read:
….we will review and alter policies that criminalize cross-border movements…..
In the second sentence, add community and rights-based before “alternatives to detention” to read:
We will also pursue community and rights-based alternatives to detention while these assessments are underway.
We oppose the sentence, “Furthermore, recognizing that detention is never in the best interests of children, we commit to the earliest possible ending of this practice.” The sentence allows the detention of children to continue unmitigated.
We would replace with the following:
Furthermore, recognizing that detention is never in the best interests of children, we commit to not using this practice moving forward
Language should be added in paragraph 3.6 to ensure that remittances are not a substitute for humanitarian assistance, efforts to promote sustainable economic development, or for nations pursuing job creation policies targeted toward low-skilled and low-income workers in their countries.
Add at the end of paragraph 3.6:
Remittances should be viewed as a supplement to, not a replacement for, humanitarian assistance, initiatives to promote sustainable economic development, and national policies designed to increase job opportunities for low-skilled and low-income workers and families.
In paragraph 4.13, we support calls for the expansion of legal pathways for refugees, but, given their vulnerabilities, such pathways should ensure their protection and social inclusion in their new countries. In paragraph 4.14, a goal of resettling 10 percent of the refugee population worldwide through resettlement slots should be reinstated.
Add ensuring their protection and social inclusion in their new countries after “third countries”, to read:
We intend to expand the number and range of legal pathways available for refugees to be admitted to, or resettled in, third countries, ensuring their protection and social inclusion in their new countries.
In the last sentence of 4.14, eliminate and other legal pathways and add at the end of the sentence, , totaling no less than 10 percent of the refugee population worldwide, to read:
We are setting as a target the provision of resettlement places for admission on a scale which would enable the annual resettlement needs identified by UNHCR to be met, totaling no less than 10 percent of the refugee population worldwide.
We oppose the construction of the last sentence of paragraph 4.7, as it would deny the right of asylum-seekers to seek protection in another country.
Eliminate will have access to in the last sentence of 4.7 and add have received, to read:
At the same time, we recognize that refugees’ ability to lodge asylum claims in the country of their choice may be regulated subject to the safeguard that they have received protection elsewhere.
7.We support the addition of language in paragraph 3.16 to promote regularization programs for irregular migrants in host countries.
Add at the end of paragraph 3.16:
We support and encourage the adoption of regularization programs in host countries that provide migrants with permanent status and opportunities for naturalization.
Finally, we support calls from civil society and others for an operational framework for the comprehensive refugee response annex within a year and a road map for the adoption of a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. We also support the public statement of civil society organizations released July 28, entitled “World Leaders must step up efforts to robust and principled deal for refugees and migrants.”
Thank you for the opportunity to provide our input.