Migrants constitute an extremely vulnerable group. The fundamental human rights of migrants are too easily violated or ignored. This is most true for those who do not qualify for one of the categories (e.g. citizen, refugee, registered foreign worker, student) that normally secure people legal protection. This situation has been aggravated by fears of terrorism and economic insecurity.
All persons, regardless of their nationality, race, legal or other status, are entitled to fundamental human rights and basic labor protections, including migrant workers and their families. Migrants are also entitled to certain human rights and protections specifically linked to their vulnerable status.
The human rights of migrant workers and their families include the following universal, indivisible, interconnected and interdependent human rights:
- The human right to work and receive wages that contribute to an adequate standard of living.
- The human right to freedom from discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, sex, religion or any other status, in all aspects of work, including in hiring, conditions of work, and promotion, and in access to housing, health care and basic services.
- The human right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law, particularly in regard to human rights and labor legislation, regardless of a migrant’s legal status.
- The human right to equal pay for equal work.
- The human right to freedom from forced labor.
- The human right to protection against arbitrary expulsion from the State of employment.
- The human right to return home if the migrant wishes.
- The human right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of the migrant worker and his or her family.
- The human right to safe working conditions and a clean and safe working environment.
- The human right to reasonable limitation of working hours, rest and leisure.
- The human right to freedom of association and to join a trade union.
- The human right to freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace.
- The human right to protection during pregnancy from work proven to be harmful.
- The human right to protection for the child from economic exploitation and from any work that may be hazardous to his or her well-being and development.
- The human right of children of migrant workers to education.
- The human right of migrants and their families to reunification.
The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families entered into force in July 2003. Its primary objective is to protect migrant workers and their families, a particularly vulnerable population, from exploitation and the violation of their human rights. This Convention contains many provisions that guarantee the migrant population certain basic rights that they are entitled to.