U.N. Investigator: Migrants Suffer Worst Racism

Edith M. Lederer, MSNBC, November 2, 2010

Migrants in Europe, the United States and many other parts of the world are subjected to the worst forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia, a U.N. independent investigator said Monday.

Githu Muigai, a Kenyan lawyer, said many other groups are also victims including ethnic minorities attacked because of their minority status, individuals stopped and searched because of their perceived religious or ethnic background, and soccer players insulted because of their color.

He reiterated his opposition to Arizona’s controversial immigration law because it compromises basic international human rights that migrants are entitled to.

Muigai, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s special investigator on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, spoke to reporters after presenting reports to the General Assembly on efforts to eliminate these practices.

“If I have found any specific group of people to be the subject of the most insidious contemporary forms of racial discrimination, those are migrants,” he said. “And I think in many parts of the world today, immigrants bear the brunt of xenophobic intolerance–and this is true of the United States, and it is of Europe, and it is of many parts of the world.”

Muigai said international law doesn’t prevent any country from enforcing “a fair, open, transparent migration policy.” {snip}

“All I have been saying in my reports is that we need to develop systems, structures, and policies in an international legal environment in which we can address the legitimate concerns of the receiving states while being able to safeguard the fundamental humanity, in my judgment, of the immigrants,” he said.

Muigai said he is concerned that the Arizona law, now been challenged in a federal appeals court, “does not respond to minimum human rights standards.”

{snip}

He urged all countries to ensure that migration policies are “at all times consistent with international human rights instruments.”

{snip}

On the issue of inciting racial or religious hatred, he said criticizing religious doctrines and teachings is a legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of religion. But he expressed concern at violence and discrimination against individuals based on their religious beliefs, attacks on religious sites, and religious and ethnic profiling.

Muigai also stressed that no state is immune from extremist political parties, movements and groups with “a thinly veiled racist agenda, a xenophobic agenda.”

{snip}

But he said he would hesitate to include the U.S. tea party movement, a coalition of groups which he said are trying to debate how government is organized and managed, with immigration policy just one issue.

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