Human Rights for Migrants at Sea: A Lackadaisical Approach?

Malvika Kala
Symbiosis Law School, Pune, India.

Volume III, Issue V, 2020

societies witness a heterogenous mix with the co-existence of citizens and non-citizens as a more or less permanent feature. The existence of international migrants in world population has seen a steady growth and has hence been a structural component in western democracies. However, a shift in trend since the last two decades towards a generalized restrictive turn amongst the countries of destination has signaled a deterioration in the status of migrants and the same is likely to worsen in lieu of the protectionist tendencies post a pandemic and changed geopolitical world. A climate of rising unemployment, labour market regulation, socio-economic uncertainty, decreased focus on welfare programmes and rising levels of racism, xenophobia and discrimination is unlikely to render the conditions of migrants as lucrative.[1] Essentially, a neoliberal economic environment attributes to the state favouring irregularities and abuse, especially in areas wherein low-skilled economic sectors are involved and immigration policies become not a matter of ethics but a facet of structural justice. The institutions governing the same hence become contingent features of it and they vary to an appreciable extent from one society to another, complicating the task of even assessing the policies in an adequate way, therefore demanding careful investigation and a concrete solution. Further, the role of international law with respect to regulation of cross border movement of people is limited. The matter of contention in its implementation becomes the weak enforcement of it as well the reluctance of states to cede their sovereignty in functioning in accordance with their own criterias. Although certain regional initiatives constrain the authority of their states,[2] largely, the states are free to exclude or admit by their own nation discretion.[3] The author of this paper aims to analyze the legal instruments in place for migrants and their protection and establish a case for a more comprehensive approach towards the same.

[1] P. De Guchteneire, A. Pécoud, And R. Cholewinski, Migration And Human Rights: The United Nations Convention On Migrant Workers’ Rights (2009)

[2] 1992 Maastricht Treaty allows citizens qualified freedom of movement within the territory of EU-member states

[3] The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 of India grants special rights to minorities of 3 countries.