Guaranteeing the dignity and rights of irregular migrants: the Fundamental Rights Conference 2011
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) held its annual Fundamental Rights Conference on 'Dignity and rights of irregular migrants' in Warsaw on 21-22 November 2011. The conference was organised in cooperation with the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) and discussed how to improve access to fundamental rights for migrants in an irregular situation, namely of those persons without authorisation to stay in the EU. The discussions were drawing on FRA's EU-wide research on the situation of migrants in an irregular situation, which was published in the run-up to the conference.
Some 300 representatives of EU institutions and bodies, national governments, international organisations, national human rights institutions and equality bodies, labour inspectorates, social partners and civil society organisations from across the European Union took part in the conference. Four expert workshops were held on solutions for protracted irregularity, detention of irregular migrants, labour exploitation and the rights of accompanied children in an irregular situation.
While recognising the sovereign right of every EU Member State to manage its borders and combat irregular migration, the conference highlighted that once a person is within a state's jurisdiction, this state has to guarantee his or her human rights. As highlighted by the FRA research, further efforts are needed to eliminate existing legal and practical barriers that prevent migrants in an irregular situation from accessing their most basic rights. The conference discussions underlined the importance of applying a fundamental rights approach to migration management and offered a number of practical suggestions to:
- facilitate access to justice;
- respect the right to education and health;
- preserve the best interests of the child;
- combat labour exploitation;
- reduce the use of immigration detention;
- end situations of legal limbo for persons who are not removed.