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Interactive Dialogue: Urgent Debate on Human Rights of Migrants
June 15, 2015

As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council

29th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

June 15, 2015


The United States appreciates the opportunity to participate in today’s important conversation.  It is the responsibility of all governments to respect and promote the human rights and labor rights of all migrants, regardless of their immigration status.

We share the world’s concern about the plight of the many vulnerable migrants who flee conflict, persecution, and extreme poverty in search of safety or a better life.

We support other countries’ efforts to ensure safe, orderly, and humane migration.  For example, we strongly support the European Union’s plans to expand search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, to consider increased legal avenues to migration, and to help both source and transit countries to manage migration more humanely.  We are also pleased to note that Southeast Asian countries came together on May 29 to address the situation surrounding vulnerable migrants fleeing Burma and Bangladesh.

Many of the world’s migrants fall victim to unscrupulous human smugglers and traffickers who exploit and abuse them.  We are committed to prosecuting crimes committed against migrants, and strongly support other states’ efforts to crack down on traffickers and other criminal groups that target migrants.  At the same time, vulnerable migrants must be treated humanely and with dignity, and not as criminals.

We would also like to underscore our concern about the human rights of migrant workers.  Even those who migrate through legal channels may still be vulnerable to rights abuses, including  unethical recruitment, debt bondage, and other rights violations.

Thank you, Mr President.