A new ILO report highlights the need for tougher measures to combat forced labour, which claims 21 million victims worldwide – men, women and children coerced into jobs they can’t leave, trapped in debt bondage, trafficked for sexual exploitation and even born into slavery. Efforts to prevent, identify and prosecute cases of forced labour often fall short of what is needed, despite good practices in some countries, the International Labour Organization said, in a report prepared ahead of meeting of experts on forced labour representing governments, workers and employers (February 11-15, 2013). […]
Migrant workers are at risk too. The report warns that trafficking of people, including children, for sexual and labour exploitation, could increase in the future as a result of growing labour mobility. […]
At the end of its 11-day visit to Greece, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted that the time has come for an improvement of conditions of detention and for the effective implementation of recent positive legislative developments, including in the area of migration and asylum. “In most detention facilities visited by the Working Group, the conditions fall far below international human rights standards, including in terms of severe overcrowding”, stressed Vladimir Tochilovsky, member of the Working Group. The Working Group also found pre-trial and convicted detainees together in the same cell, as well as administrative detainees, including irregular migrants and asylum seekers, mixed in with criminal detainees, in violation of national and international standards. “Detainees are being held for months in police holding cells and border guard stations, although these facilities were designed for a maximum stay of 24 hours”, Tochilovsky said. “This situation also affects the rights of pre-trial detainees to properly prepare their judicial defence as there are no adequate facilities for the communication of the detainees with their defence lawyers”, he added.
Concerning the right to free legal assistance, the Working Group found serious discrepancies between the legal requirements and the actual application of these safeguards. During its interviews with detainees, the Working Group found out that very few of them were aware of their right to free legal assistance and that, in numerous instances, the accused did not enjoy his or her right to legal assistance without payment. The Working Group stresses that the non-application of alternatives to detention, the lack of effective judicial review as well as the excessive length of detention may render the detention of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers arbitrary. “The imprisonment of a migrant or an asylum seeker for up to 18 months, in conditions that are sometimes found to be even worse than in the regular prisons, could be considered as a punishment imposed on a person who has not committed any crime”, added Tochilovsky. “It appears to be a serious violation of the principle of proportionality which may render the deprivation of liberty arbitrary”. […]
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will undertake its first official fact-finding mission to Greece to assess the situation of deprivation of liberty in the country. From 21 to 31 January 2013, the group of independent experts designated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of arbitrary deprivation of liberty will visit various detention facilities, including prisons, police stations, detention centres for migrants and psychiatric institutions.
The fact-finding mission will provide an opportunity to engage with the relevant authorities at the executive, legislative, judicial and local levels as well as civil society organizations. The delegation will consist of Mr. Mads Andenas (from Norway) and Mr. Vladimir Tochilovsky (from Ukraine). They will be accompanied by staff from the UN human rights office. A press conference on the preliminary findings of the Working Group will be held in Athens on Thursday 31 January. The final report of the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2013. […]
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, stressed today that the plight of the growing number of irregular migrants trapped in Greece on their way to other European Union destinations requires a EU-wide approach focused on human rights. He also urged the Greek Government to step up its efforts to ensure that the rights of all migrants within its territory are fully respected. "As the large number of irregular migrants stuck in Greece is mainly a result of EU policies and practices, there is a strong need for solidarity and responsibility-sharing within the EU in order to ensure full respect of the human rights of all these migrants", Mr. Crépeau said at the end of his visit* to Greece, as part of his yearlong study on the management of the EU external borders, which has already taken him to Brussels, Tunisia, Turkey and Italy earlier this year.
During his visit, many Greek interlocutors expressed to him dismay at the reluctance of other EU countries at taking on a number of migrants stuck in Greece with little possibility of being returned home, and little chance of being integrated in the local labour market and society, given the economic crisis the country is going through. However, he said, “while the role of the EU in managing the migration flows in Greece is crucial, the Greek government also needs to adopt and implement a comprehensive migration policy which has the human rights of migrants as its framework”. “I urge the Greek authorities to undertake all the necessary measures to combat discrimination against migrants”, he said. “I am deeply concerned about the widespread xenophobic violence and attacks against migrants in Greece, and I strongly condemn the inadequate response by the law enforcement agencies to curb this violence, and to punish those responsible”. Mr. Crépeau drew special attention to the Greek government’s new policy of systematically detaining everyone they detect irregularly entering the Greek territory, including unaccompanied children and families. “There does not seem to exist a clear, coherent strategy as to what to do with irregular migrants who are not clearly and easily deportable”, the rights expert said. […]
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, will visit Greece from 25 November to 3 December as part of his yearlong study on the management of the external borders of the European Union, which has already taken him to Brussels, Tunisia, Turkey and Italy earlier this year.
"Given its strategic position in the Mediterranean, sharing both a land- and sea border with Turkey, Greece has become a key point of entry for many migrants seeking to reach the European Union", Mr. Crépeau said. During his nine-day mission to Greece, the human rights expert will meet with a range of government officials responsible for border control and migration, the EU’s representation in Greece, international organisations, NGOs, and migrants themselves, to discuss the complex management of the Greek border. The UN Human Rights Council’s envoy will also visit a number of migrant detention centers.
Mr. Crépeau’s visit to Greece is the fifth and final stage in his study on the management of the EU external borders. He visited Brussels in May, Tunisia and Turkey in June, and Italy in October. […]