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U.S. Gravely Concerned About Reports of Crimes Against Vulnerable Migrants and Refugees
March 18, 2013

Item 8: General Statement

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
As Delivered by Lisa Brodey

Human Rights Council 22nd Session

March 19, 2013

Mr. President,

The United States is concerned about the vulnerability of migrants, including women, children and migrants in crisis situations.  We call upon countries to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, especially those of women and children, and to address international migration through international, regional or bilateral cooperation and dialogue and through a comprehensive and balanced approach.  Effective engagement requires recognizing the roles and responsibilities of countries of origin, transit and destination in promoting and protecting the human rights of all migrants, and avoiding approaches that might aggravate their vulnerability.

The United States is gravely concerned about reports of crimes committed against vulnerable migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East, including in the Sinai, where there are increasing reports of kidnappings, horrific abuse including rape, and extortion of large sums of money from migrant victims’ family members in exchange for migrants’ release.

Some of the migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees abused in the Sinai are also victims of trafficking.  As President Obama has noted, human trafficking is a “debasement of our common humanity.  It ought to concern every community, because it tears at the social fabric.  It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.”

In 2012, at the 21st session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna, governments noted concern about the increase in the activities of transnational and national organized criminal entities and others who profit from crimes against migrants, especially women and children, without regard for dangerous and inhumane conditions and in flagrant violation of domestic and international laws.

Smuggling of people and material goods, as well as trafficking in persons, create criminalized economies and often take place in locations that lack security and regular law enforcement and in communities where local populations lack alternative livelihood options.  We recognize that in these remote locations there are residents who condemn the horrific abuses committed against migrants but are unable to take appropriate action for fear of retribution by criminal elements and others complicit in the illegal activities.

The United States urges all States to undertake effective measures to prevent and respond to crimes against migrants by individuals or groups and to investigate and punish perpetrators.  States must protect victims of national and transnational organized crime, including kidnapping, human trafficking and smuggling.

As President Obama has said: “Everyone has a responsibility.  Every nation can take action.” Thank you.