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[Work Plan]

Inter-American Comission on Human Rights (IACHR)

1. Activities Assigned

The Program assigns the following four specific activities to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its Special Rapporteurship for Migrant Workers and Their Families:

Carry out activities to promote the inter-American human rights system, with emphasis on the human rights of migrants and their families, including the use of the Commission’s website for that purpose.

Facilitate the exchange of information and technical assistance on human rights and migration legislation with state agencies; government officials; organs, agencies, and entities of the OAS; multilateral organizations; and civil society organizations.

Offer training on guarantees of due process in migration proceedings and on the use of the inter-American human rights system, to organizations that make free legal aid programs available to migrants and their families.

Offer training to government officials from sending, transit, and receiving countries on consular protection to migrants in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, taking into account information, notification, communication, and consular assistance for migrants.

2. Activities Carried Out

  In 2005, the Rapporteurship compiled and distributed a CD containing reports on subject areas, reports on visits carried out, and inter-American system jurisprudence.

  Since 2005, the Special Rapporteurship has received an increasing number of alerts regarding the plight of victims of trafficking in persons, many of whom are subject to domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, and forced labor.

  During the same period, the Rapporteurship has paid special attention to major issues, such as the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons; the impact of the war on terrorism on migration controls, and the situation of migrant workers in the region. It has also assessed the effects of the numerous natural disasters in the Hemisphere, such as those occurring over the past two years in Haiti, the southern part of the United States, Central America, and the south of Mexico, and their impact on migration flows, as well as the effects on migration of unequal development between regions and countries and of certain political and economic crises in the region. The IACHR has also kept track of major developments regarding migration in the Southern Cone, such as the entry into force of Argentina’s new Migration Law and the promulgation of amendments to the Chilean Constitution.

  Over the past two years, the IACHR has deepened its knowledge of concrete aspects of the situation of migrant workers and their families in the region. During the 123rd regular session in October 2005, three further thematic hearings were held to discuss issues related to migrant workers and their families. At one of the hearings, trafficking in persons in the Americas was discussed, with emphasis on shortcomings and failings in the development of laws and regulations designed to prevent and punish this offense. On that occasion, the Commission urged states to develop integral policies and norms designed to prevent and punish trafficking in persons, based on a perspective of respect for human rights. The IACHR also held a hearing specifically to receive information regarding the situation of Haitian and Dominican-Haitian communities in the Dominican Republic. Finally, the Commission was informed at that session of the situation of some migrants performing domestic services for diplomats and international civil servants, especially with respect to their legal defenselessness due to their employers’ abuse of their diplomatic immunity.

  In March 2006, the IACHR conducted hearings on the situation created by the General Law of Migration of the Dominican Republic and on the situation of migrant workers in Costa Rica.

  During the special sessions held in Guatemala City in July 2006, the Inter-American Commission received information regarding the free trade agreements and human rights in Central America, a subject that also has repercussions on migration issues.

  Simultaneously, the Special Rapporteurship has continued to lend its assistance and examine petitions and requests for precautionary measures received by the Commission in connection with migrant workers.

  Given the special concern manifested by several member states, the Rapporteurship decided to address the issue of the obligations of states sending migrant workers to protect and guarantee their human rights in its Seventh Annual Report, corresponding to 2005. The Rapporteurship was able to document the finding that, often enough, protection or violation of a right depends on prompt and effective action by the diplomatic or consular representation before the state in which the migrant worker is located.

  From August 2005 to end-2006, the Special Rapporteurship lacked the additional funds needed to carry out its activities, which were therefore curtailed. In November 2006, it received a major donation from the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The Rapporteurship underscored the value of that support and it trusts that the interest expressed by other states and organizations will materialize in the form of further financial contributions.

  Among other things, that financial support allowed the Rapporteur, on behalf of the IACHR, to take part, toward the end of November, 2006, in the workshop on “Migrant Workers: Protection of Their Labor Rights and Labor Market Programs.” The meeting took place in Ottawa, Canada, and was organized by the Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor (IACML). The objectives of the workshop included promotion of dialogue and cooperation among the Labor Ministries of the Americas on the promotion of the labor rights of migrant workers and the migration processes implemented by the states in accordance with their legal systems; the exchange of experiences and programs to promote and protect the labor rights of migrant workers and labor market programs, with particular emphasis on Canada’s temporary workers program; and the identification of lessons learned and guidelines for future action in the inter-American context.

3. Activities Being Planned:

During the regular session of the IACHR to be held in February and March 2007, the Commissioners will establish the schedule of activities to be carried out by the Rapporteurship, using the funds received. The activities contemplated include, inter alia:

  Selecting a specialist in migrant workers’ rights to prepare studies on the subject and support the legal analysis of petitions, cases, and precautionary measures received by the IACHR.

  Updating the Special Rapporteurship’s web page.

  Organizing seminars, workshops, and promotional activities to disseminate knowledge of the rights of migrant workers and their families.

  Participating, on behalf of the IACHR, in the activities referred to in the foregoing item.

4. Calendar

Hiring of the specialist is scheduled for first semester 2007.

The schedule for the remaining activities will depend on the priorities set by the IACHR at its next session.

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