The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) took part in an online meeting of Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) Working Group on Migration and Human Rights meeting on February 21, 2022.  The Commission was represented by its Deputy Chief Commissioner, Rakeb Messele and Eskedar Bekele, the Director of Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Migrants’ Rights Department.  

A survey conducted by the Kenyan National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) on “The Status of Migrants in Places of Detention in Kenya” served as a springboard to kickstart the conversation between member NHRIs on the potential roles they can play to ensure the promotion and protection of rights of migrants. 

“Under international human rights law, governments are obliged to uphold the human rights of all persons at all times and circumstances, including migrants and asylum seekers, irrespective of their citizenship, nationality or migratory status”, the survey underlined. The findings also showed that an approximately 2000 migrants are held in detention centers across Kenya with a third of these migrants being detained for being in the country without proper documentation. Among the 530 migrants in detention across the 55 prison institutions in Kenya covered by the study, 65% are from countries in the sub-region: Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Somalia.

In light of this, the study served to underscore the role national human rights institutions can play in terms of monitoring that national responses to migration are inclusive and accountable. The meeting also highlighted that NHRIs have a contribution to make in terms of monitoring the human rights impact of laws, policies and practices relevant to migrants. 

The Working Group meeting was facilitated by Better Migration Management (BMM) for the Horn of Africa, the German Cooperation (GIZ) with co-funding from the European Union. The platform serves to bring together NHRIs in IGAD member states to share experience, enhance their capacity and facilitate the design and implementation of joint initiatives towards the promotion and protection of rights of migrants in the sub-region.

At the conclusion of the meeting, members of the Working Group agreed to organize capacity building in the area of human rights of migrants and to intensify their cooperation.