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UN Human Right Council Should Ensure Monitoring of Abuses at Borders

HRW and Amnesty International Joint Statement - HRC53

Syrians run as they flee from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain to Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 9, 2012. © 2012 Reuters

Delivered at the Item 3 Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants at HRC53                                          

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his call today to set up an independent international monitoring mechanism at borders.  

We deplore the hostile and sometimes lethal conditions facing people in transit. Preventable human tragedies at international borders across the world are often the consequence of migration management policies and practices which turn away those in need – rather than offer protection. These policies disproportionately affect individuals from certain nationalities and ethnic, racial or religious groups, as you and the former Special Rapporteur on racism have noted. 

Hundreds are presumed dead after the latest shipwreck close to the Greek coast. The Mediterranean has become a mass grave for people seeking safety, with EU states blatantly disregarding their search and rescue obligations.  

This is not an isolated case.  

On the Turkish-Syrian border, people in transit are indiscriminately shot at and beaten.  

In Thailand, people attempting to cross from Myanmar are summarily pushed back, where they are likely to face persecution, torture or other serious harm.  

At the US-Mexico border, people who are turned back or forced to wait are exposed to hellish abuses committed by criminal groups and security forces alike.  

A year ago, we witnessed the horrific deaths of dozens of people attempting to cross the Morocco-Spanish border. To date, there has been no credible, comprehensive investigation and the lack of access to official information has been devastating to the families of the victims.  

We agree with the Special Rapporteur, it is essential to establish an independent monitoring

mechanism at and around borders.  Such a mechanism should investigate the multitude of violations and contribute to accountability and redress to victims and their families.  

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