Project

Unlawful Deaths of Refugees & Migrants

Support from the Columbia Global Policy Initiative
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Support from the Columbia Global Policy Initiative

Directed by Dr. Agnès Callamard, the U.N. Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, "Unlawful Deaths of Refugees & Migrants" focuses on the mass casualties of refugees and migrants in the course of their flight. The report, submitted to the U.N. Sectretary-General and transmitted to the General Assembly on 15 August 2017, addresses killings by both State and non-State actors, and denounces a quasi-generalized regime of impunity, worsened by an absence of accurate data on the dead and missing. Dr. Agnès Callamard calls urgently on States to address this human rights crisis by prioritizing the protection of the right to life in their migration and refugee policies.

The project and subsequent report presents evidence that suggests multiple failures on the part of States to respect and protect refugees’ and migrants’ right to life, such as unlawful killings, including through the excessive use of force and as a result of deterrence policies and practices which increase the risk of death. Other violations to the right to life result from policies of extraterritoriality amounting to aiding and assisting in the arbitrary deprivation of life, and from the failure to prevent preventable and foreseeable deaths, as well as the limited number of investigations into these unlawful deaths. The report also presents best practices in search and rescue operations and for the dignified treatment of the dead, but points out that States do not implement them as they should, and fail to resource them adequately.

The scale of casualties among refugees and migrants demands urgent attention at national, regional and international levels. The report presents recommendations for this purpose. The equal protection of all lives, regardless of migration status, is a central underpinning of the entire international human rights system: it must be upheld in the context of the movement of people and must form the foundation of all governmental and intergovernmental policies.


Unlawful Deaths of Refugees & Migrants - United Nations Press Briefing (27 October 2017)

People
Director, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression; Special Advisor to the President, Columbia University