HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
Strasbourg, 8 June 2010
FOR THE ATTENTION OF MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
1. Adopted the agenda.
The Chair, Gabriel Nissim, welcomed participants and thanked Françoise Poujoulet (CIMADE), national representative for Alsace and Lorraine, for attending. CIMADE was an association which had been supporting migrants for 70 years, especially in the legal field.
2. Adopted the synopsis of the meeting held on 25 January 2010.
3. Migration and human rights
3.1. Presentation of the topic
Welcomed the members of the Europe and Global Challenges Transversal Group and their Chair, Michel Julien, the topic being a joint concern.
Heard a statement by Maritchu Rall (AIC) on the issue paper on Criminalisation of Migration in Europe: Human Rights Implications, published by Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. She underlined that the situation was serious, with migrants suffering many human rights violations. Their economic, social and cultural rights were not respected. The NGOs could take various steps through the ad hoc working group. (link to the statement of Maritchu Rall – in French only)
Heard a statement by Marie-José Schmitt (AEH), who referred to three major issues concerning the future of migrants:
- international regulations,
- national policies on migrant workers,
- the personal situation of migrants.
(link to the statement of Marie-José Schmitt – in French only)
3.2. NGO action
Heard two accounts of action taken on the ground, by Marie-Eve Fischer (ATD Fourth World) and Françoise Poujoulet (CIMADE).
The key points of the two accounts were as follows:
a) In the case of ATD Fourth World,
- reaching out to those who were furthest from access to human rights and working with them to build the fight for universal access to all human rights;
- the 191 million migrants who now formed the fifth-largest ‘country’ in the world were, above all, individuals seeking a better future;
- an application to the European Court of Human Rights concerning settled French Roma families comprising 19 individuals and their minor children had been declared admissible in September 2008;
- a tool for action: “solidarity rights committees”, whose aim was to publicise the struggles of people who were denied rights and end the isolation of those who offered advice and support in gaining access to rights;
b) In the case of CIMADE,
- receiving and supporting migrants and asylum seekers;
- offering foreigners advice and expertise to enable them to assert their rights;
- campaigning to defend foreigners’ fundamental rights and ensure respect for their dignity;
- describing what migrants experienced and the difficulties they encountered;
- helping them to integrate by running specific training courses.
Heard a statement by Maria Ochoa-Llidó, Head of the Migration and Roma Department at the Council of Europe, on the co-operation between NGOs and the Council of Europe, which encouraged NGOs to work to protect migrants through the Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter (revised). In particular, she underlined the challenging of family reunion and the issue of unaccompanied child migrants. She also referred to the Council of Europe campaign on the status of migrants initiated by the European Committee on Migration (CDMG).
3.3. How and where should INGOs take action?
Held a debate, in which the following points were highlighted:
- importance of the European Convention on Human Rights;
- action to be taken in terms of education for migrant children;
- illegal immigrants in prison;
- access by migrants to health care;
- collective complaints: how should they be drafted?
Agreed to set up a Working Group on Migrants and Human Rights to draw up a document for the attention of Council of Europe member states and more specifically the ministries concerned by migrants (interior and justice). The focus could be family reunion.
4. Reform of the European Court of Human Rights
Heard a report on the Interlaken Ministerial Conference on the reform of the Court, which the President of the Conference of INGOs had been invited to address (link to text of speech). The Court was encountering serious difficulties because of the number of applications, which was why the Swiss Chairmanship of the Council of Europe had held the conference.
Consideration would also have to be given to the issues which would arise in connection with EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. A new committee of experts was going to be set up.
5. Working Group on Social Charter, Economic and Social Rights
Was informed by Marie-José Schmitt that few NGOs were specialised in the area of group 3 (labour rights). For December 2011, the reports concerning group 4 (children, families, migrants) were to be submitted to the European Committee of Social Rights by 31 October 2010. States would submit their reports concerning Articles 7, 8, 16, 17, 19, 27 and 31. In this connection, she asked the NGOs concerned to submit their comments.
6. Working Group on Religions and Human Rights
Was informed by François Becker that a version of the report would be presented at the next session in June. A seminar was due to be held with the Conference of INGOs in January or April 2011.
7. Working Group on Media Education
Was informed of the state of progress of the work and took note of a media education brochure for young people.
8. Topical issues
Was informed that the 4th World Forum on Human Rights would be held in Nantes in July 2011.