Topic 1: Rights & Responsibilities

Rights & Responsibilities


Essential points on rights and responsibilities:
  • There is no a specific category set for “migrant rights”. Rights enjoyed by migrants have been established in general through human rights law, refugee law, migrant workers and humanitarian law.
  • The international and regional legal framework, international human rights law, highlight a range of obligations that states have in responding to vulnerable migrants in need of protection.
  • Migrants have responsibilities, rights and obligations towards both transit and destination countries.
  • These responsibilities and obligations are defined through national laws, however, are not limitless, and must still comply with States’ obligations under international law.
  • Key among these is the respect for the human rights of all migrants, irrespective of migratory status.

International legal instruments that define rights and responsibilities of migrants:

  • 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  • 1949 the Migration for Employment Convention
  • 1950 European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR
  • 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees;
  • 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons;
  • 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
  • 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  • 1977 European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers
  • 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW – the Migrant Workers Convention)
  • 2000 United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNCTOC);
  • 2003 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress & Punish Trafficking in Persons (the Palermo Protocol);
  • 2004 Protocol on the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea & Air; and
  • 2006 UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities.

The core minimum rights which apply to all people, including all categories of migrants:

  • Right to life, liberty and security of person
  • Right to self-determination
  • Right to respect for private life, family, home and correspondence
  • Right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression
  • Right to human treatment as a detainee
  • Right to equality before law
  • Right to non-discrimination
  • Right to leave any country and return to one’s own country
  • Prohibition against slavery/the slave trade
  • Prohibition against torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Prohibition against arbitrary prolonged detention
  • Prohibition against retroactive penal measures
  • Principle of non – refoulement