A global “nonchalance” at deaths of refugees and migrants is shocking, says Volker Türk, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Türk, during his speech at the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council earlier in September, said it was “evident that far more migrants and refugees are dying, unnoticed” and his office was “seeking urgent clarification about allegations of killings and mistreatment” in some cases.
“I am shocked by the nonchalance that becomes apparent in the face of more than 2,300 people reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean this year, including the loss of more than 600 lives in a single shipwreck off Greece in June,” said Türk.
Türk blames the “politics of deception, of throwing sand in people’s eyes” and the “brutal politics of repression” for further alienating refugees and migrants from public empathy and support.
“We so badly need a flowering of critical, innovative and constructive views to build better policies and systems, but what we increasingly get are military coups, authoritarianism and the crushing of dissent – in short, the fist,” he said.
The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) attended the Council's session at the UN headquarters Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
QUNO’s Geneva-based programme Human Rights & Refugees has previously called on the Council to respond to the global pattern of deaths, torture and other grave human rights violations at international borders. These issues mostly affect refugees and migrants.
QUNO has collaborated to draft a joint letter calling on the Council to undertake a global investigation into deaths, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave human rights violations that people in transit across international borders face. This collaboration included 228 organisations and the letter can be accessed here.
In this letter, QUNO and others call on the Council to establish an “independent international monitoring mechanism to undertake a global investigation into deaths, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave human rights violations faced by people in transit across international borders including as a result of pushbacks and collective expulsions, and to contribute to accountability and redress for victims and their families”.
It added: “This independent monitoring mechanism would contribute to prevention and accountability by reporting on its findings and providing recommendations on robust follow up action at national, regional and international levels including addressing root causes of violations and the role of racial discrimination in the management of international migration, to ensure remedy for victims and to end these practices and the climate of impunity surrounding grave human rights violations at borders and in transit.”