UN reaffirms commitment to core human rights principles

By Mnena Iyorkegh, Abuja

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The United Nations has reaffirmed its commitment to the core human rights principles of dignity, equality, and non-discrimination of everyone, everywhere regardless of their migratory status.

The affirmation was made by the Senior Human Rights Adviser, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Adwoa Kufuo-Owusu at a training of Civil Society organizations on Human Rights Based Approach to Migration in Abuja, Nigeria.

Ms Kufuo-Owusu said handling issues of migration perfectly needs working legal frameworks at all levels.

“Migration is a complex and multifaceted issue that touches the lives of countless individuals and communities around the globe.

“It has the power to transform societies, economies and most importantly, individual lives. However, migration is often accompanied by challenges, which can lead to violations of the human rights of migrants if not properly managed and safeguarded.

“To manage and safeguard vulnerabilities that might arise in the context of migration, various legal and institutional frameworks have been established both at the international, regional and national levels,” she said

The Executive-Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr. Tony Ojukwu, represented by Mr. Hilary Ogbonna, Senior Human Rights Adviser of NHRC, noted that there is need to adopt a human rights-based approach in dealing with issues of migration.

“Human rights are at the heart of migration. From the exercise of the rights of freedom of movement, association and assembly, migration extends to other core human rights such as the right to dignity, the right to adequate standard of living, the right to quality health and education amongst others.

“In fact, it is safe to say that human right is the beginning and end as well as the objectives and outcomes of every migratory activity.”

He pledged to work with partners within and outside the government to strengthen policies and practices that impact on the human rights of migrants and victims of trafficking and smuggling

According to Aisha Braimah, of the UNODC’s Trafficking of Person and Smuggling of Migrants Programme, a lot of people who found themselves in vulnerable migration situations were often the targets of smuggling.

“People who are trying to flee persecution, conflicts or natural disaster in their home state, find themselves wanting to migrate through irregular means. In terms of mitigating risks of migration, it is important we work in a holistic way, that’s reason this training workshop was put together to bring stakeholders together to solidify approach to the issues,” she said.

Participants form Civil Society Organisation called for relevant awareness creation against violation of migrants to achieve a meaningful progress.

The Director of Center for Youths Integrated Development, Mr. Victor, Aihawu, said there was need for human rights information gap to be bridged.

“CSO in Nigeria needs to be trained on the aspect of Human rights in terms of migration. We do a lot of work in terms of migration in Nigeria. But this is the first time the that Nigeria Human Right Commission and UN Human Right Office and CSOs are coming together to discuss specifically human rights on migration. 

“So, the CSOs that are working in this area need the knowledge to bridge the gap so that they can carry out their work effectively.

“Because they are policies that guides human right and you cannot protect one’s human right without knowing what it entails, the first thing is that you have to know what are their rights and how do you go about defending their rights without violating the law of your own country,” Aihawu stressed.

For Isimeme Whyte of Genius Hub, an NGO that handles migration issues says “ Genius Hub creates “awareness by identifying the local opportunities that exist in these local environment. The truth is there are a number of opportunities that are available but many of us are not aware of them.”

Whyte called for the process to be accessible and acceptable by all.

The two day training organized for CSOs by the UN Human Right Office in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is aimed at building and strengthening capacity of Civil Society Organisations on human rights-based approach to migration response.

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