Saving the lives of those stranded at sea should remain the priority: UN rights experts (United News of Bangladesh)

Dhaka, May 22 ( UNB) – A group of United Nations human rights experts welcomed the Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai leaders’ decision not to pushback migrants and asylum seekers arriving in their territorial waters.

They also urged the international community to assist the countries affected by supporting financially and materially their efforts to protect the human rights of all migrants, according to a message received here from Geneva.

“This is an important and welcome step forward in recognition of the need to protect the right to life for all, regardless of their status,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on migrants, Francois Crepeau on trafficking in persons, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro on torture, Juan E. Mendez and on summary executions, Christof Heyns. “Saving lives must remain a priority.”

“Pushbacks conducted against migrants and asylum seekers which may also include victims of trafficking are never a good option. They only end up perpetuating the suffering of children, women and men who are already risking death for a better life,” they stressed.

The independent experts noted that allowing migrants and asylum seekers to disembark reinforces the commitment of these three countries to their international human rights obligations. Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to offer shelter to 7000 asylum seekers and migrants stranded at sea.

“Once rescued, asylum seekers and migrants should be received in open centers offering adequate accommodation facilities and, where necessary, have access to medical care,” they said.

“All those rescued should be individually assessed to establish their protection needs and ensure that the principle of non-refoulement is upheld by the three countries concerned, and that no person is returned to a State, where she or he might be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Next month, the Special Rapporteur on migrants will present reports on European Union border management and on his visit to Italy and Malta to the UN Human Rights Council.

At the same session, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons will present a report on the issues that she intends to focus on in the course of her tenure including further exploration between the link of mixed migration flows and trafficking.