3-6-2012By Eleanor Acer
Director, Refugee Protection Program
Panel on Steps to Protect the Human Rights of Migrants, Refugees and Stateless Persons
A “Strong Call to Action.” That’s how David Robinson, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Migration and Refugees, described last week’s panel discussion and Human Rights First’s report outlining steps that states, UN agencies and others can take to protect migrants, refugees and others from xenophobic, racist and other bias-motivated violence.
Making the opening remarks at an event we held last week in Washington, he said the gathering and our recent report on xenophobic violence remind us of “our duty to combat, to exorcise, the pernicious kind of hatred that picks on the world’s most vulnerable people, the kind of hatred that goes after refugees, IDPs, stateless people, gay and lesbian people, religious and ethnic minorities and anybody else who is different, who is alien.”
The event examined the impact of xenophobia, racism, and violence on migrants, refugees, and stateless people, focusing on the Dominican Republic, Libya, South Africa, Ukraine, and Russia. Participants identified steps that the United States and other actors can take to address this human rights problem.
Listen to the full audio of the event:
Strategies for Combating Xenophobic Violence
Key Recommendations for the United States government include:
- Advocate in bilateral relations and offer technical assistance, including training of police and prosecutors in investigating, recording, reporting and prosecuting violent hate crimes and organizing international visitors programs for representatives of law enforcement, victim communities and legal advocates
- Enhance Interagency Cooperation, by designating an office to convene regular coordination meetings within the State Department, and strengthening inter-agency cooperation between the Departments of State and Justice, the FBI and other agencies in strengthening law enforcement and related activities internationally
- Support Civil Society working to combat bias-motivated violence, by ensuring access to support under existing U.S. funding programs and that Embassy and State Department representatives meet with civil society on a regular basis; and
- Demonstrate International Leadership by providing political and financial support to efforts of UNHCR, OHCHR, IOM, OSCE and others to strengthen responses to xenophobic and bias-motivated violence, encouraging these agencies to allocate sufficient staffing and resources; and to encourage states to implement existing commitments including to collect and report hate crime data and enact legislation to combat hate crimes.
Read the complete set of recommendations for the U.S. government.
Our CEO and President Elisa Massimino opened the event. Other panelists included: Shaina Aber, Associate Advocacy Director, Jesuit Refugee Service; Vincent Cochetel, Regional Representative, UNHCR Regional Office for the United States and the Caribbean; Amy Kirkpatrick, Office of the Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; and Mischa Thompson, Helsinki Commission, as well as Duncan Breen and Paul Legendre, experts from Human Rights First’s staff. The first panel was moderated by Sam Witten, Counsel at Arnold & Porter LLP and Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, and the second by Tad Stahnke of Human Rights First. The event was kindly hosted by McDermott Will & Emery LLP.
Click to see the full agenda for the event.
Read Human Rights First’s report, Combatting Xenophobic Violence: A Framework for Action, which outlines steps for States, UNHCR, IOM, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other key actors.
Read Human Rights First’s 10-Point Plan for Combatting Xenophobic and other forms of bias-motivated Violence.