To continue on the very large theme that is the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, I bring you another post to discuss just one legal concept….genocide. A sombre concept but frighteningly applicable to the events leading up to the Rohingya refugee crisis (background of this in last post). As previously stated, UN officials have gone as far as to describe the actions of the Myanmarese military and their Buddhist counterparts towards the Rohingya as genocidal. Unarguably the violence directed at the Rohingya was grave, devastating and fatal in nature. It was horrific enough to undoubtedly violate many international human rights, humanitarian and criminal laws. Yet, however much we would like to penalise the guilty party for genocide, does it legally fit the bill?
Definition of Genocide
We may all have in our minds our own idea of genocide that I imagine resembles something like ‘an outstandingly vile and catastrophic event whereby mass amounts of humans are arbitrarily killed’. However, to hold someone/something accountable for Read More »
Inspired by the last post on statelessness, I thought it fitting that the next one should be a whole post dedicated to one of the largest stateless populations in the world, the Rohingya Muslims. What follows is not a post focused on a specific human rights issues, but a more general overview, almost a story, of a population plunged into complete crisis and forced to battle numerous human rights issues everyday. It is not the briefest of posts but decades of unwarranted suffering endured by the Rohingya has earned them more respect than a ‘summary’.
The Rohingya Muslims. A population who are victims of relentless persecution. The majority of Rohingya Muslims alive today have never experienced a life free from persecution. The Rohingya population reside in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, one of the poorest and most basic in the country, and claim to be descendants of Muslim traders who settled in the region centuries ago. However, a long history which has seen Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country home to over one hundred different ethnicities, unwilling to accept Rohingya Muslims, has made survival for the Rohingya a constant battle.
“The more than one million Rohingya Muslims are described as the ‘world’s most persecuted minority‘” – Al Jazeera
Citizenship and statehood is not something that the majority of us will think about day to day. They are aspects of our life that for most are a given from birth, but for some, statehood is a struggle with the potential to turn lives upside down. As of December 2017, the UNHCR recorded 3.2million individuals officially existing as stateless people, with the true number expected to be even higher.
“[S]tatelessness involves high political stakes worldwide and therefore remains among the most overlooked issues on the human rights agenda.” – Al Jazeera
A person is stateless when they are “not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law” (1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, art. 1). Sounds crazy right? How can someone not ‘have’ a country, surely everyone comes from or belongs somewhere? The easy answer is yes, everyone does come from somewhere. But, owing to technicalities in laws and practices, millions of people around the world fall into a void, a no mans land if you like, where they live a life without the luxury of status or belonging. Statelessness creates a chasm between an individual and their community and prohibits them from living life in harmony with the society around them.
Without going into the technicalities of the nationality laws of every country in the world, these are the four predominant reasons that the UNHCR have identified as the causes of statelessness.
Gaps in poorly written nationality laws which prevent nationality being passed on. Nationality laws are decided by the state. Most commonly states depict that you can ascertain citizenship via your parents at birth, or through being born in the country you ‘should be’ a national of. If there are gaps in the law, a child born to unknown parentage in a country which passes on nationality through the bloodline, may end up stateless from birth.
Being born abroad. Due to the fact that countries make their own nationality laws, occurrences like this can cause a clash of laws which render a child stateless. If a child is born in a country which will not grant citizenship of that country just through being born on their soil, but their country of ‘origin’ does not permit citizenship via bloodline only (e.g. you must be born on the soil of the country), then again, a child risks falling into a vacuum where it is neither a national of their country of origin, or the foreign country. As more and more people choose to live and work abroad, this is becoming an increasingly difficult obstacle.
The creation of new borders and new states. Many people can be left without a nationality if this occurs. For example in the 1990’s the dissolution of Yugoslavia rendered thousands stateless, many of whom remain stateless to this day. The ‘new’ states may enact nationality laws which conflict with the citizenship people already have, or new laws set for nationality may discriminate against certain races or ethnicities.
Nationality withdrawn. In some instances, states can revoke nationality of an individual if they have lived outside the country for too long. Additionally, states have been known to change nationality laws which discriminate against certain races or ethnicities and render them stateless.
Alongside these causes, many issues of statelessness are deep rooted in the wider issues of gender inequality. As many as 27 states have discriminatory laws which prevent women passing on citizenship to their child in certain instances. For example in Nepal, if a Nepalese woman has a child with a foreign man, she may not pass on Nepalese nationality. Yet, if a Nepalese man has a child with a foreign woman, the child is able to ascertain Nepalese citizenship. Unequal laws like this are continuing to foster generations of stateless people. Click here to watch a short video discussing the issue of women and citizenship.
What are the consequences of being a stateless person?
If you’ve never experienced statelessness or gone out of your way to read about it, you may be in for a shock when you discover how much of a hinderance it can be to the normal functioning of everyday life.
Just because we are talking human rights, doesn’t mean it has to all be negative. We can talk about the progress that’s being made too, although the progress is set within the context of some horrific abuses. This time, we’re talking about the rights and treatment of migrants working as domestic workers in Kuwait. The post focuses on Kuwait because of the recent bilateral agreement that has been signed making this progress, however the conditions described for migrants domestic workers (MDWs) can mostly be generalised across all of the the Gulf states, with only small variants in the protective laws.
So, a recent agreement signed between Kuwait and the Philippines has made some small headway towards reducing some of the abuses that were occurring where domestic workers (those who work in households) were concerned. This is amazing news and has been a long time coming! But before we delve into the provisions of the new agreement, what was the situation that prompted it?
The short answer, abuse of MDWs and more frequently than we would like to think, treatment of them in a way that could constitute modern slavery. A horrific thought back then, let alone in this day and age when we are supposed to have abolished such happenings. What’s worse, most of these women migrate out of necessity with the false promise of higher wages which they can send back to their families at home.
[W]orkers risk their lives to escape, attempting dangerous climbs from the windows or balconies of their employers’ homes. – Human Rights Watch
First post, let’s not sugar coat it, let’s dive straight in with the real issues. Trafficking is an abhorrent violation of anyone’s human rights, let alone a vulnerable child. It might not be the shortest post but we’ll give such an important issue the time it deserves. Read on to unpack the realities of our legal system and the effect on the trafficking of migrant children.
The ‘Refugee Crisis’, a term bounced around our media since 2015, but what does it mean? The current Refugee Crisis refers to the sudden and large influx of migrants crossing European borders as triggered by the increasingly in-habitable environments in Syria, South Sudan and Iraq to name but a few. Consequently, there has been mounting pressure on European states to accept those seeking refuge and assist them. This pressure on the states, as we have recently seen reach breaking point in Italy, makes the term Refugee Crisis two fold. Firstly, it is a crisis because of the conditions that the refugees are fleeing in their home states. Secondly, it is a crisis because of the insurmountable pressure being piled onto European states, putting a strain on resources and funds.
As time goes on and the number of migrants attempting to cross into Europe increases, resources become more and more stretched and the conditions to which they arrive in Europe rapidly deteriorate. As one can imagine, such factors are not conducive to a safe environment for children. When we combine increasingly cramped and unsafe environments, with overloaded European governments and a lack of protective legal provisions, it is no surprise that it has become a breeding ground for the trafficking of migrant children.
“Europe is the world’s most dangerous destination for “irregular” migration”. – International Organization for Migration
The very fact that these children are placed at risk of trafficking through no fault of their own tugs at my heart strings. As if they haven’t already been through enough? They are a refugee by virtue of the fact they are fleeing persecution of some kind in their home country, not by choice. Yet, they are greeted in Europe with another form of persecution (albeit complex to prove under the Refugee Convention), which may be equally as horrifying as the one they were running from in the first place.
So, why is trafficking on the rise? Of course there are many angles from which we could approach this, however we will proceed from a legal perspective. Look away now if brief descriptions of legal instruments is not your thing. Read More »