GENEVA/WASHINGTON/BANJUL – A group of UN and regional independent human rights experts today launched the Platform of Independent Experts on Refugee Rights (PIERR), to better coordinate joint advocacy initiatives that will enhance the protection and promotion of human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers.

In a complex international context, where persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, and events disturbing public order have resulted in historically high numbers of people being forced to flee their homes, there is a need for strengthening coordinated action and work to protect asylum-seekers and refugees, the experts said, including increased promotion of the implementation of international human rights norms and standards. The numbers highlight the need: at least 47.8 million people are refugees, asylum-seekers, and others in need of protection who have sought safety outside the borders of their country.

“Unfortunately, when the need for protection is most acute, the world is witnessing a worrying approach in many contexts involving punitive measures, pushbacks, collective expulsions, refoulement, deprivation of liberty, limited access to asylum procedures, political prioritisation, hostility, xenophobia and discrimination against refugees and asylum-seekers worldwide,” the experts said in a statement. “This threatens to put an end to or even reverse progress that has been made towards advancing their rights.”

Respect for human rights is at risk at every stage of the forced displacement cycle. Violations of human rights are a root cause of flight in the first instance; the human rights of asylum-seekers are often at risk while in transit; and the millions of people waiting for asylum claims to be determined or residing in protracted displacement in countries of asylum often are unable to access the full panoply of human rights and to achieve protection and true durable solutions.

Against this backdrop, the group of independent international and regional human rights mechanisms have come together to create a space to share knowledge about and act on, intervene and speak about concerns related to international forced displacement in a coordinated and effective manner.

“This Platform can provide unique insights and advocate on urgent issues, gaps, and shortcomings in the implementation of international and regional legal frameworks and standards, in the complex areas of human rights and refugee protection that impact on asylum-seekers and refugees,” they said.

“At this watershed moment in history, it is of utmost importance to recommit to the values and human rights of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly the right to seek and to enjoy asylum from persecution,” the experts said. “The value of working together, across our international and regional human rights protection systems, in the spirit of our commitment to the Universal Declaration, is clear to us and we are ready to take up this challenge in the common quest of advancing the human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers.”

This platform takes inspiration from the EDVAW Platform launched in 2018.

PIERR is currently composed of the mandates of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the human rights of migrants and on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, the Working Group on arbitrary detention, the UN Committee against torture, the Special Rapporteur on refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons and migrants in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Rapporteurship on the rights of migrants of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The Platform is supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

The experts: Gehad Madi, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Siobhán Mullally, UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Priya Gopalan (Chair-Rapporteur), Matthew Gillett (Vice-Chair on Communications), Ganna Yudkivska (Vice-Chair on Follow-Up), Miriam Estrada-Castillo, and Mumba Malila of the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention; Claude Heller, Chair of the UN Committee against torture; Selma Sassi-Safer, Commissioner and Special Rapporteur on refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons and migrants in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; José Luis Caballero Ochoa, Commissioner and Rapporteur on the rights of migrants of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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