UN rights expert warns of adverse impact of Romania's growing migration trend

21 June 2009
Human Rights Council in Geneva

The rising flow of workers moving in and out of Romania has delivered a significant blow to parts of the population in the Eastern European country, an independent United Nations human rights expert has warned.

Labour migration in Romania is characterized by the number of children left behind by parents searching for work abroad, the growing need for qualified workers as a result of the 'brain drain' and the sheer volume of workers leaving the country, said Jorge Bustamante, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

In a statement issued on Saturday after wrapping up a six-day visit to the country, Mr. Bustamante said that labour migration is “one of the key issues for domestic and foreign policy in Romania given the fact that both immigration and outmigration have been increasing in the recent years.”

Mr. Bustamante also noted the development of two contrasting criminal trends: the decrease in human trafficking, on the one hand, and the increase of smuggling workers across borders, on the other.

However, the Special Rapporteur was encouraged by several civil society initiatives ¬– some in partnership with UN agencies and Government institutions – which aim to protect and assist victims of abusive forms of migration, such as the slave trade and smuggling.

Although encouraged by the Romanian ratification of several international agreements protecting human rights, he voiced regret that Bucharest had not ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and members of Their Families adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1990.

“I note the Government's interest in addressing some of the problems related to the human rights of migrants but observe with concern certain gaps and ambiguities in the legislative framework regulating the protection of migrant workers,” he said.

He added that Romania pointed to the “fact that ratification [of the Convention] has not been a practice accepted by the European Union,” a stance taken by other States who have recently joined the EU.

The Rapporteur, who was appointed to the independent and unpaid post in 2005, is slated to present a report on his visit to the upcoming meeting of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in September.


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