The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, has urged Sri Lanka to decriminalize irregular departures from Sri Lanka, as irregular migration should only be seen as an administrative offence.
In a report to the UN Human Rights Council which begins meeting in Geneva on Monday, François Crépeau has also proposed that the Government refrain from detaining returned Sri Lankans who have migrated irregularly.
“Detain migrants in an irregular situation in Sri Lanka only as a measure of last resort, for as short a period as possible, and systematically apply alternatives to detention, particularly for families and children, who should never be detained; in that respect, consider the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur in his report on the detention of migrants in an irregular situation and alternatives to detention (A/HRC/20/24),” he said.
The Special Rapporteur also urged Sri Lanka to ensure that all persons, regardless of citizenship or migration status, enjoy the rights provided for in the Constitution of Sri Lanka without any discrimination, in accordance with international human rights law.
He has also urged the Government to enhance cooperation with civil society organizations working on migration-related issues, and include them in all relevant discussions.
The report is based on a visit he undertook to Sri Lanka last year. Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants conducted an official visit to Sri Lanka from 19 to 26 May 2014, where he visited Colombo, Kurunegala, Kandy, Tangalle and Galle, and held consultations with government officials, the United Nations country team, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, diplomats, recruitment agents, trade union representatives, civil society organizations and migrants.
The focus of the visit was labour migration from Sri Lanka and related recruitment practices, and their impact on the human rights of migrants. The Special Rapporteur welcomes the efforts undertaken by the Sri Lankan authorities to regulate labour migration and protect the rights of its citizens who migratee abroad, but notes the need to fully implement a human rights approach in that respect.
The Special Rapporteur also looked into the situation of migrants in Sri Lanka. He notes the need to regulate and monitor the detention of migrants in Sri Lanka, and to revise constitutional provisions which discriminate against migrants. (Colombo Gazette)