Leo Platvoet

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No human being is illegal

Report: Human rights of irregular migrants

PACE, 27th of June 2006

On walls in Amsterdam is written Ď No human being is illegalí. I think this is a basic principle of humanity. People can behave like criminals, because they are stealing, murdering, raping and thus bring shame and sadness to other peopleís life and goods. But the simple fact that a person stays in a country without a legal pemit doesnít make this person illegal. OK, itís an illegal act, but it doesnít hurt anybody personal. Of course, you can discuss about the wording, but what I try to say is that the approach of migrants without a permit is in most countries far beyond the princinples of human rights. They are treated like non-existing persons, without any rights, while their only illegal act is that they donít have a permit to stay. At the same time, when they are caught and seems to be existing,  they are treated like criminals.

I think mr. Ed van Thijn makes with his report a very good attempt to make these non-existing persons visible. To make it clear that the so called irregular migrants are really existing human beings, who should have human rights.

This morning was the much attended debate on the Marty-report in which the the Assembly condemns the depriving of suspected people of their basic human rights.  Of course this was right and I supported the Marty report fully. Now we discuss a report about approximately 3 Ė 5 million people, who arne not suspected of any crime against another person, but are also deprived from basic human rights. The report and the resolution underlines that there is a number of international laws, conventions, protocoals and treaties who are in some way dealing with the rights oif migrants without a permit. Then the report and the resolution, on basic of these international laws, tries to formulate basic human rights for migrants without a permit. And, very important, the rights of their children to have education, protection and attention. The Council of Europe has a good reputation as the guarding angel of human rights in Europe. We have the obligation to keep our standards on a high level, to avoid double standards and to keep our eyes wide open for every offending of human rights. Therefore, the proposals in this report, the reseolution and the recommendation deserves our fully support. Therefore itís necessary that this report, when adopted, leaves this building and is discussed in the parliaments and governments of the memberstates and Ėof course- by the committee of ministers.  

I underline the proposal in the resolution to ask the Commissioner for Human Rights to take up this issue and to pay attention in his reports to the way memberstates are dealing with this issue. Itís a cornerstone of a broader approach of how all the member states of the CoE are inmplementing and defendcing hman rights.