Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Publié: 22 mai 2015

24th Session

Vienna, 18 – 22 May 2015


Agenda item 6

“Use and application of United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice”

Statement delivered by

Sue Le Mesurier, Global Migration Advisor

on behalf of the

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies



Thank you Mr. Chairman for giving the opportunity to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to speak on the very important topic of migration, with a specific focus on violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families. This issue is very much in the public eye at present with the ongoing humanitarian emergencies that we have seen this month in the Mediterranean Sea and Bay of Bengal.

Over 5,000 people are believed to have lost their lives attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean in the last 18 months, making these waters the most dangerous borders in the world.  Authorities involved in migrants’ journeys – including authorities in countries of origin, transit and departure – have a fundamental duty to respect human dignity and to avoid any action that puts the lives of these people at risk. We need to recognize that the plight of migrants constitutes a humanitarian emergency.

As the IFRC Secretary General, Mr. Elhadj As Sy, has recently stated, every time a boat sinks, or is at risk of becoming a floating cemetery, a part of humanity drowns and we are haunted by the knowledge that it could have been prevented.

It is obvious that around the world today people are on the move – including women who have been subject to violence in their home country, whilst on their perilous journeys and when they eventually arrive at their destination. As estimated by UNHCR, there are 52 million people currently trapped in a state of “protracted forced displacement” –  and 50% of these are women.

One particular vulnerable group I would like to focus on today is female migrant workers. Many of the most at risk female migrant workers are hidden from our eyes, locked in domestic or other forms of servitude, living in the shadows of our societies.

Discrimination, intolerance and violence towards female migrant workers is a refusal by some in our society to accept our differences, often based on fear or ignorance. We need to do more to address this issue. Meanwhile, we have also seen an increasing ‘global indifference’ about migrants’ vulnerabilities in general, and the factors that force them to leave their homes in search of employment, a better future or to simply recover their human dignity.

Violence, as we all know, can take many forms. Physical, sexual, moral and psychological abuse against migrants is a growing phenomenon, which is exacerbated by the current negative dialogue on migration. Migrants, especially those in irregular situations, are particularly vulnerable to violence and exploitation. These are issues that the international community needs to address to ensure that the human rights and dignity of all migrants are respected and upheld.

The IFRC, with a network of 189 National Societies, is dedicated to working alongside Governments to ensure that the protection and assistance needs of migrants, irrespective of their legal status, are met.

In this respect, we welcome the 2013 Resolution 67/185 adopted by the UN General Assembly on “Promoting efforts to eliminate violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families”. We encourage Member States to take the necessary steps to implement this resolution and we further commit to increase our efforts to address intolerance, discrimination and violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families.  

Finally, Mr Chairman, our Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is committed to participating in international forums that focus on protection of migrants, irrespective of their legal status, and on humane migration approaches that prevent situations of violence, stigmatisation and exploitation and uphold the dignity and human rights of all.

Our partnership with the UNODC and Member States is a long-standing one and we remain committed to creating a stronger and wider consensus on the humanitarian response to these critical issues.

Thank you