‘Camps That Are Becoming Cities – Cities That Are Becoming Camps : The Case of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan

The Oppenheimer Chair is pleased to welcome Faten Kikano, PhD Candidate in Environmental Design, from the Université de Montréal for a conference and a photo exhibition. Ms. Kikano will present her research and her photos about the life of  Syrian refugees in camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Join us for a lunch, a short conference…
Sonia Cancian Poster
lundi, 27 mars 2017

The Power of Life Stories : Situating the Narratives of Migrants and Refugees within the Context of the Law

The Oppenheimer Chair and the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism are pleased to welcome Dr. Sonia Cancian, from Zayed University for a seminar on life stories of migrants and refugees and the law. This seminar will lead a discussion on life stories of migrants and refugees and their power (or not) within…
  Theresa May: We will change human rights laws to crack down on terrorism

May : I’ll rip up human rights laws that impede new terror legislation

Article in The Guardian
7 juin 2017

For politicians, it is too often a zero-sum game, “my way or the highway”. In the present nationalist populist atmosphere, politicians will claim that undesired foreigners should not be covered by international human rights law or by constitutional guarantees. When most of the terrorism is “homegrown”, they still need to “externalise” it and, in an echo of the Cold War, place the responsibility on “foreign agents”. Moreover, they invoke their conception of a “crisis” to justify trampling the rights of foreigners, forgetting that the human rights regime was created by the generation that survived WWII and that human rights safeguards were thus put in place to remind States of their obligations, not only in times of peace, but more so especially in times of crises or war. Who can seriously argue that our present “migration crisis” is of the magnitude of WWII ?

« The prime minister said she was looking at how to make it easier to deport foreign terror suspects and how to increase controls on extremists where it is thought they present a threat but there is not enough evidence to prosecute them…

She said : “But I can tell you a few of the things I mean by that : I mean longer prison sentences for people convicted of terrorist offences. I mean making it easier for the authorities to deport foreign terror suspects to their own countries.

“And I mean doing more to restrict the freedom and the movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they present a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court.

“And if human rights laws stop us from doing it, we will change those laws so we can do it.”

To access the full article, please click here


Report : ‘Human Act or Devil’s Pact’

Human rights aspects of migration agreements between EU and third countries
5 juin 2017

An excellent report on the human rights dimensions of migration agreements between the EU and third countries. Many thanks to Marie-Laure.

« Through the media, we were regularly confronted with the deadly consequences of dangerous attempts by migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea on overcrowded, often unseaworthy, boats…

Since then, the European Council has convened various meetings discussing the necessity to reduce the number of migrants and refugees coming to Europe. These discussions tend to focus more on saving human lives at sea and preventing people smuggling, and less on safeguarding human rights, such as the right to asylum and the prohibition of refoulement…

The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights and Meijers Committee are aware that managing migration is a source of great concern to citizens and governments in the EU. However, managing migration should not compromise the fundamental human rights to which the EU and the individual Member States have committed themselves. In the paper that follows, the Institute and Meijers Committee will list the human rights that may be jeopardised by the scheduled agreements. Member States and EU repeatedly emphasise that the agreements must be implemented in conformity with human rights obligations under international and European law.

This paper offers a yardstick for establishing whether the proposals and agreements about migration comply with these human rights obligations. »

To access the full report, please click here


Migrants’ Rights & Development : New Report

MOVEMENT Report: A Global Civil Society Report on Progress and Impact for Migrants’ Rights and Development
5 juin 2017

Many thanks to Rosa.

« The new Report is based on written input from 600 representatives of civil society active in migration and development around the world, as well as twenty in-depth interviews with civil society actors actively engaged at the regional and global level. »

To access the full report, please click here

  Photo Credit:

Montreal – « Ville des droits humains »

May 26-27 - "Une ville. Une cause. Trois événements"
8 mai 2017

« Montréal, ville des droits humains » est un événement global qui se penchera sur le rôle joué par Montréal dans la promotion des droits de la personne.

Cet événement de deux jours est organisé par Amnistie internationale, l’Institut Montréalais d’études sur le génocide et les droits de la personne (Université Concordia), le Comité National Arménien du Québec et le Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

  A policeman monitors the security situation along the underground water runway system that runs along the border. This is often used by smugglers to pass contraband in the USA. Photo Credit: Patrick Tombola

USA : Mexican Drug Smugglers to Trump : Thanks !

Article in The New York Times
5 mai 2017

What is true for drug smuggling is also true for migrant smuggling. If push factors and pull factors remain unaddressed, and a barrier is created preventing fluidity from the one to the other, one has the perfect conditions for an underground market to flourish. The more the authorities repress undocumented migrants, the more they are pushed deeper underground into the hands of unscrupulous smugglers, recruiters, employers and landlords. 40 years of the war on drugs have not significantly reduced the power of the cartels. One should remember that the end of the Prohibition in the Thirties brought an end to bootlegging from Canada and destroyed underground empires such as Al Capone’s. Harm-reduction policies have most often worked better than zero-tolerance policies and allowed law enforcement to target specific threats without having to cast too large a net. As for tackling undocumented migration, taking over the mobility market by providing most migrants with regular, safe, accessible and affordable mobility options and repressing employers abusing the precariousness of their workforce are the only way to progressively eliminate underground labour markets and the migrant smuggling industry.

« When asked whether the border wall promised by President Trump will stop smugglers, he smiles. “This is never going to stop, neither the narco trafficking nor the illegals,” he says. “There will be more tunnels. More holes. If it doesn’t go over, it will go under.”

What will change ? The fees that criminal networks charge to transport people and contraband across the border. Every time the wall goes up, so do smuggling profits.

Today, many migrants pay smugglers as much as $5,000 to head north without papers, trekking for days through the Sonoran Desert. Most of that money goes to drug cartels that have taken over the profitable business…

Strengthening defenses does not stop smuggling. It only makes it more expensive, which inadvertently gives more money to criminal networks »

To access the full article, please click here