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Race, Racism and the Law 
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Migrants and Migrant Workers

NGO Forum, World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban, South Africa, August 27-Sept 1, 2001

This page is part of much larger document. Please be sure to read the Overview, the Declaration-Guiding Principles, Programme of Action-Guiding Principles, and Programme of Action - Legal Measures which provide the context for understanding this page. Click here to Download Word Document.




155. The restructuring of the global economy facilitates the transnational movement of capital but tries to restrict the and control the movement labour, thereby exacerbating regional economic inequalities and the commodification and de-regularisation of migrant workers, and especially forcing workers into 'flexible' conditions of work which are exploitative and which undermine all universally accepted labour standards.

156. We express our concern that in many countries official programmes and actions aimed at controlling migration and regulating inter-ethnic relations result in new and covert forms of institutionalised racism. Migrants and migrant workers, both documented and undocumented, contribute in various ways to the well-being and enrichment of their own societies as well as of the societies in which they reside and work and their access to equal rights and opportunities in these countries, including access to permanent residency, citizenship, and the recognition of their own independent status in all immigration matters, especially for women and children must be recognised.

157. Migrants and migrant workers as well as members of their families are vulnerable to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The technical qualifications, skills and expertise of migrants and migrant workers need to be valued, and their full and fair access to employment in both the public and private sector need to be ensured.

158. Women migrants and migrant workers, including those with disabilities, are especially vulnerable to all forms of violence and abuse due to the ways in which sexist and patriarchal ideologies frame the current international division of labour and contribute to the feminization of the work force, undervaluing women's work, and restricting women to sectors of employment such as domestic work and entertainment.

159. Acknowledging that immigrant and refugee women, young people, girls and children very often constitute a high proportion of workers in informal employment including home-working or outworking, domestic work, sweatshops and the sex industry. Language barriers, citizenship status, race discrimination and being part of an ethnic minority contribute to the vulnerability of women, girls and children who work in this sector. Governments should legislate to protect these women, girls and children, prioritizing their human rights and undertake awareness raising programmes, working with community organizations, ethnic communities and unions to ensure that migrant workers and refugees are not exploited and made aware of how to enforce their rights. Governments should also reform labour law to ensure that female dominated employment sectors enjoy complete labour rights protection.

Programme of Action

395. Effectively keep and use disaggregated statistics to assess the complexities of modern migration patterns.

396. Eliminate discriminatory treatment by public authorities, in particular police, other law enforcement officers, immigration officers as well as de facto immigration officials such as airport and airline employees, of persons from countries of immigration, asylum seekers and undocumented persons and to ensure that these groups are provided with necessary information and legal assistance in the event of torture, ill treatment or any kind of violence perpetrated on the basis of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

397. Provide gender-sensitive human rights education and anti-racism training programmes for key professionals frequently in contact with immigrants and asylum seekers, including customs and immigration officials.

398. Provide education and capacity building for refugees, asylum seekers, documented and undocumented migrant workers and migrants on their rights, responsibilities, and avenues for redress.

399. Recognize the professions, qualifications, titles, and degrees of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers, during the period in which they are waiting for legalisation of their status.

400. Recognize and give value to foreign-trained and foreign-educated migrants, migrant workers, refugees, and asylum seekers, stateless and internally displaced persons thereby enabling them to use and improve their skills.

401. Ensure the protection of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, including the right to free mobility and assembly, the access to social services, health care, education, political participation, including voting rights at all levels, of documented and undocumented migrants, migrant workers and members of their families and to enact and enforce legislation and policies in this respect without delay.

402. Initiate and review policies and regulations that facilitate the regularization and decriminalisation of undocumented migrants, and in the meantime ensure respect for their non-derogable human rights and freedoms, including the right to life, the right not to be tortured, the right to equal access to justice and to security, as well as to other basic rights such as, their right to education, housing, health (with due attention to persons with disabilities), living wages, employment, access to culture and the environment without fear of arbitrary detention and summary deportation.

403. Actively promote and support self-initiatives and non-governmental organizations working to organize and unionize documented and undocumented migrants and migrant workers, allocate sufficient resources, especially to women's groups, to build their capacities to more effectively address human rights violations within their community.

404. Protect the equal rights of migrant women who are particularly vulnerable to violence, including sexual and domestic violence and other forms of abuse, ensure free and full access to remedies for human rights violations and grant them their own independent status in all immigration and migration matters.

405. Recognize the particular vulnerability of migrant and refugee children, particularly unaccompanied and abandoned children, and appoint qualified guardians to children separated from their parents or otherwise unaccompanied by a responsible adult. Furthermore grant citizenship to children of migrant workers in the receiving countries.

406. Recognise that there are diverse ways to establish family relationships and grant and facilitate entry for purposes of family reunification and ensure that, once admitted, family members enjoy secure and independent residence status, including the full enjoyment of social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights.

407. Develop and implement effective gender-sensitive measures and programmes to ensure that the human rights of foreign domestic workers are protected from any form of discrimination, violence, physical and sexual abuse the rights in respect to their trade-unions, professional and technical associations, as well as the rights to fair remuneration are guaranteed and implemented, including to right to redress mechanisms for these rights.

Establish policies that will hold sending and receiving country governments accountable while also enabling them to monitor the activities of non-state agencies such as private recruitment agencies and syndicates.

Same level:
African and African Descendants ] Asian and Asian Descendants ] Arabs and Middle East ] Dalits and Discrimination Based on Work and Descent ] Ethnic and National Minorities and Groups ] Indigenous Peoples ] Jews and Anti-Semitism ] [ Migrants and Migrant Workers ] Palestinians and Palestine ] Refugees- Asylum Seekers- Stateless and Internally Displaced Persons ] Roma Nation and Travelers ]
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[Race and Racial Groups] [Citizenship Rights]  [Justice and Race] [Patterns of Basic Needs] [Intersectionality Issues] [Human Rights]

Always Under Construction!

Always Under Construction!
Copyright @ 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001. Vernellia R. Randall
All Rights Reserved.


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