- June 18, 2024

Last Friday 14th June, the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMWF Committee) closed its 38th session, during which it held constructive dialogues with the States of Congo, Senegal, and Türkiye. Throughout the session, the CMWF Committee continued to advance the development of the "CERD-CMW Joint General Comment/Recommendation on Obligations of State Parties on public policies for addressing and eradicating xenophobia and its impact on the rights of migrants, their families, and other non-citizens affected by racial discrimination."

Earlier this year, in response to both Committee's call for submissions on a concept paper for the joint general comment/recommendation, the International Disability Alliance (IDA) submitted its written contribution to promote and advocate for an intersectional approach that includes the rights of persons with disabilities enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The IDA calls on these two committees to provide substantive guidance that considers the interplay between xenophobia and ableism, ensuring the protection and benefit of migrants with disabilities, including protection against horrendous and pervasive hate crimes committed against them.

IDA's submission presents the concept of ableism, as "a value system that considers certain typical characteristics of body and mind as essential for living a life of value ... [leading to] consider the disability experience as a misfortune that leads to suffering and disadvantage and invariably devalues human life,”[1] as well as its interaction with xenophobia, which leads to hate crimes and harmful practices against migrants with disabilities. Such phenomenon has been documented by IDA's member the European Disability Forum in EDF Recommendations on EU initiatives on hate speech and hate crime (2021), which includes concrete examples of cases in different countries. The submission then critiques the common discriminatory restrictions imposed on the rights of migrants with disabilities based on ableism and disability, such as the "health requirement," which prevent migration of persons with disabilities on equal basis with others, due to the perception that they will become a threat or an economic burden to public health. 

Both elements underscore the importance of ensuring that the future general comment explicitly addresses ableism, reinforcing the obligation of States to address the rights of migrants with disabilities from a human rights-based approach to disability, and that it explicitly outlaws discriminatory approaches such as migration health requirements. The future general comment/recommendation should also require States to raise awareness to combat the negative perceptions and beliefs about migrants with disabilities and their families. Furthermore, it should stipulate measures to prevent and penalize hate crimes and hate speech targeting them, explicitly including disability as a protected ground under hate speech laws.

To better monitor implementation of measures in this direction, the future general comment/recommendation should promote that States ensure the participation of persons with disabilities and their organizations of persons with disabilities in related public decision making, enhancing their visibility and supporting their active and cooperative role in awareness raising policies. Data collection and disaggregation by disability needs to be explicitly promoted as it remains essential to get better and more accurate statistical data on the concrete impact of xenophobia and ableism on migrants with disabilities.

Find the full text of the submission in IDA's webpage on General comments and IDA’s submissions to mainstream rights of persons with disabilities,under the title Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMWF).

[1] A/HRC/43/41, para 9.