Asia Pacific Regional Review of Implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

Asia Pacific Regional Review of Implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

10 to 12 March 2021, General debate (Agenda item 2, 10 March 2021)

Pleasant day to all. I am Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana from the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF).

The APF is a coalition of 25 National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from across the region.

The APF affirmed that NHRIs should “respond effectively and promptly to requests from other NHRIs to investigate violations of the human rights of their nationals present in a country that has a national institution”. That affirmation established the precedent for cross-border human rights cooperation amongst the APF membership in the broader area of migration.

While migration is a positive and rewarding experience for many migrants and their families, a significant number face serious challenges and violations of their human rights. This includes ill-treatment by immigration or law enforcement authorities, abusive working conditions, absence of basic workplace protections, limited access to social security, discrimination and wide-spread xenophobia. The pandemic and resulting government restrictions have exacerbated these situations.

We note the efforts of sending and receiving States during the pandemic such as providing shelters for stranded migrants, ensuring medical and financial assistance, and facilitating their repatriation. We do however raise our concern over the lack of support in accessing justice, further risks of trafficking for labor, and poor living conditions in quarantine facilities and shelters.

While governments continue to cite that certain rights can be restricted in the context of public emergencies, we caution against the application of these restrictions beyond the allowable parameters of human rights law—restrictions should always be legal, necessary, and proportionate. Any overreach may result to human rights violations.

NHRIs support and monitor the implementation of the GCM through:

  • Engaging in consultations with the aim of localizing its objectives;
  • Monitoring and assisting on cases of rights violations against migrants and their families;
  • Promoting awareness and positive narratives of the contributions of migrants and their families; and
  • Submitting reports to UN and regional human rights mechanisms, particularly the Treaty Bodies.
    But we also face challenges such as:
  • lack of appreciation of the value of human rights. Often we are viewed as adversaries. But we bridge partnerships between governments and civil society; and we provide advice on the implementation of States’ human rights obligations in the context of migration.

NHRIs are partners in the GCM implementation process and we look forward to continuing this engagement with all stakeholders. We would recommend that our role and contribution to the GCM implementation process be reflected throughout the regional review. We also call on States to inclusively engage with CSOs, trade unions, and NHRIs during the implementation of the GCM at the national level.

Thank you and God bless us all.