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June 24, 2002

Original: English – Spanish
Translation: non FTAA Secretariat



Name(s) Regional Network of Civil Organizations for Migration -RNCOM- / Silvia Irene Palma Calderón / Member of the RNCOM Interim Executive Committee
Organization(s) The RNCOM is made up of civil organizations that are part of a variety of networks, forums, panels, and institutes in member countries of the Regional Conference on Migration - RCM-:
  1. Canada: Canadian Council for Refugees / Francisco Rico
  2. United States: Enlaces América (America Links) c/o Heartland Alliance
  3. Mexico: Foro Migraciones (Migration Forum) Fabienne Venet
  4. Guatemala: Mesa Nacional para las Migraciones en Guatemala (National Panel for Migrations in Guatemala) -MENAMIG- / Anabella Noriega
  5. El Salvador: Foro de Migrantes (Forum for Migrants) / Gilma Pérez
  6. Honduras: Foro Nacional para las Migraciones en Honduras (National Forum for Migrations in Honduras) -FONAMIH- / Maureen Zamora
  7. Nicaragua: Foro Migrantes (Migrants’ Forum)/ Jorge Estrada
  8. Costa Rica: / Red Nacional de Organizaciones Civiles para las Migraciones (National Network of Civil Organizations for Migrations) - RNOCM- / Diego Lou
  9. Belize: Human Rights Commission of Belize/ Linda Gamero
  10. Dominican Republic: Jesuit Refugee Service / César Torres
Country:     Guatemala

Declaration of the Regional Network of Civil Organizations for Migrations - RNCOM -, presented to the
 VII Regional Conference on Migration, celebrated in La Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala, May 30, 2002

The members of the RNCOM are highly satisfied by the development of the VII Regional Conference on Migration, which is a manifestation of sustained efforts by the governments of the region to further their understanding of the migration phenomenon and to properly deal with migrants from a regional perspective. We also wish to express our contentment because throughout this process dialogue and cooperation among participant governments and civil organizations from member countries working in this matter have improved.

We wish to reiterate our convergence with both subject matters that have prevailed on the agenda of the Conference and in its Action Plan, and we firmly believe that both of them should continue to be the focus of our shared concern. Precisely, we are referring, on one side, to the actions addressed to protect the human rights of the migrants and their families and, on the other side, to the links between migration and development in its broader sense, as a way to improve the livelihood of our people. However, we are convinced that both aspects are closely linked and that full exercise of human rights is an essential condition to enjoy the right to development.

Therefore, we would also like to make sure that the Agenda and the RCM Action Plan keep the emphasis on the nature, characteristics, determinants, and consequences of the migratory processes. We urge the governments participating in this Conference to deal with the subject of migration from a wide an integrated perspective, without losing track by subordinating their priorities in favor of subjects of other public policies agendas, as is the case of national security, the fight against terrorism, combat against drug dealing, among others. An inherent risk of the inclusion of the topics on migration in this agendas could be the intensification of xenophobic, discriminatory, and racist attitudes and positions, besides the fact that it promotes the criminality of the migration phenomenon.

We want to express our agreement with the words stated this morning by the Minister of Interior of Guatemala, who stressed that: “… No country can face that agenda (the migration one) on its own, nor by its own account”. Also, we recognize the importance of the regional approaches of shared responsibility expressed by the above-mentioned statesman, as well as the need to strengthen the institutions of the State, in what we perceive as the necessary fulfillment of its responsibilities and, particularly in view of the State reform processes that are been encouraged in the countries of the region. Such processes should promote a desirable convergence among policies and functions of the Chancelleries and the institutions in charge of controlling and administrating migration movements. It is also worth mentioning the effort of some countries to establish inter-institutional coordination for the development of sector programs focused on migrating populations, as in the case of certain activities related to the health assistance and social security coverage. Within framework, we reiterate that organized civil society plays a coadjutant role in all the processes to administer public policies.

Concerning protection, yesterday we presented to the Regional Consulting Group a brief report on the advances of the initiative of the Network so that the Governments can agree upon the “Regional Guidelines for the Protection of the human rights of migrants in situations of interception, detention, deportation and admission”. We wish to reiterate our recognition for the collaboration and proposals from a significant number of governments and other international organizations. As we have expressed, these contributions, together with the ones we shall be receiving in due course (i.e. until August 1, 2002), will permit the formulation of a consented version that hopefully will be generally adopted during the coming Conference. However, it is convenient to underline that the preliminary version has already been a valued reference tool for monitoring exercises carried out by members of the Network in most countries of the region. As such, and with the purpose to advance in the concretization of our initiative, we request governments that:

1. Those governments that are already providing access to information and other resources, such as their infrastructures, to support research and monitoring work promoted by RROCM continue to do so.

2. Those governments that are not providing such assistance as yet join the support and facilitation process allowing to fulfill the process of agreement on these Guidelines.

3. Those governments participating in a wide and determined in the revision of the consented version of this initiative so that it can be presented in the VIII RCM for approval.

The Regional Network recognizes the efforts of some governments of the region (Dominican Republic and Honduras) aimed at reforming their migration laws, adapting them to the complexity of the migration processes and improving them so that they can be better tools for the protection of the rights of the migrants, while assuring respect for the guarantee of due processes and establishing mechanisms to regulate the situation of undocumented migrants. We also urge other governments of the region engaged in more restricted reforms of their migration laws, such as El Salvador and Nicaragua, to rescue the essential criteria from the proposals of the above-mentioned governments.

Nevertheless, we are concerned by the growing militarization in the management of the migration processes in the region, and very particularly, the preponderant role of national armies and other security bodies in situations of interception, detention, deportation and admission of migrants. It is clear that such situation is a violation of the law, and also implies the involvement of people in functions for which they have not had previous training. When national security criteria prevail over other socio-economical and political considerations, it will undoubtedly lead to the denial of fundamental rights of the migrants. Besides, such practices favor the notion that migration, as means to seek a better life and working opportunities, must be penalized.

Concerning the relation between migration and development, the Action Plan includes activities addressed to analyzing the role, volumes, difficulties and potentialities derived from the generation, use and purpose of remittances sent by migrant workers to their home countries. We are convinced that this approach is limited since the dimension of development goes beyond the administration of the economic resources derived from migration. It is necessary to expand the debate on the complex concept off development, which requires taking into consideration not just dimensions of an economical nature but also social, cultural, political, ethnical, and demographical.

At the same time, we are concerned by the emergence of regional initiatives related to economical integration, which necessarily have an impact on the mobility of the population, since it is about processes that must be appropriately anticipated and treated. Experiences in terms of regional integration, as in the case of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) show that mobility of goods and capitals occurs in close relationship with the population, especially of that directly involved in the working markets derived from those processes.

Facing this situation, we urge governments of the countries of the region that have endorsed similar agreements or that are considering to promote other similar initiatives, to include a specific consideration on the subject of migration in the processes and mechanisms of negotiation, and also to create specific institutions to resolve working conflicts jeopardizing the rights of migrant workers. In this context, it is convenient to recall our reiterated interest in having the government of the region ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families, not only as a formal request to put into effect this tool, but overall, as an true commitment with the principles of both the Convention and this Conference.

The Regional Network urges governments of the Conference to continue looking for effective answers to the South-South migration phenomenon. We understand such process as one that involves population groups such as: i) those whose final destiny are Central American countries and the Caribbean; ii) those whose destiny is the North but for different reasons stay in Central America and the Caribbean; iii) female and male temporary workers working in farms and agro-industrial complexes in border zones; and iv) those requesting refuge and refugee populations in need of protection. It is urgent to activate the capacity of governments in order to create flexible regularization alternatives for these populations; considering that they are an important factor for the development of the countries receiving remittances from those migrant workers, and for those countries using their labor.

We urge member governments of the Conference to reaffirm adopted commitments for the international protection of those requesting refuge and shelter. In this sense, it is important to underline the new challenges in terms of protection that the governments of the region are facing. We are referring particularly to Colombian, Cuban, and Haitian citizens who increasingly arrive to the borders of our countries in search of guaranty for life, freedom and safety in those countries welcoming them.

Considerations in terms of protection of these persons cannot be diminished by the adoption of laws focusing on the fight against terrorism. We recognize the legitimate concern on safety matters but it worries us that this may undermine international standards reached in terms of protection of the people in legitimate need of safeguard.

Concerning refugees, we also call upon all member countries of the Conference, but very particularly The United States and Canada, to facilitate access to those requesting refuge to protection institutions, and to promote reallocation programs for refugees in highly vulnerable conditions.

Finally, we reiterate our commitment to continue treating in a convergent way that search for approaches and solutions to assist in the best possible way the situation of the migrants of the region. As long as this purpose is fulfilled we shall be contributing to raise the livelihood of our people.

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