The international conference entitled the “Human Rights in Refugees/Migrant Crisis”, has been organized in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia on November 23 and 24, 2015, with the participation of ombudsman and the national human rights institutions.
Also, the experts and assistant experts of Human Rights Institution of Turkey have participated in the Conference, in which especially the Ombudsman and National Human Rights Institutions of twenty-nine different countries from the Mediterranean, Balkan and Europe regions, and the representatives of diplomatic representatives, Serbian National Assembly, the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the international organizations and the non-governmental organizations.
Paris, Beirut and Mali in particular, the Conference program beginning with a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks occurred in different regions and cities of the world, has continued with the opening speeches of the Ombudsman of Republic of Serbia, Saša Janković and the Director of ODIHR Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Michael Georg Link, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia, Irene Vojáčková-Sollorano and the Executive Director of Serbia Open Society Foundation, Jadranka Jelinčić. In the opening speech, by expressing that the conference was carried out in the shade of the terrorist attacks growing all over the world, it was pointed out that terrorism and the refugee crisis were not the same phenomenon and it was emphasized that this distinction should be clearly put forward. It has been indicated that the human rights applied not only to the citizens, but to all people, including the refugees and migrants. it is reported to be available for all people. The importance of cooperation and dialogue, not only at local and national level, but also at the international level have been mentioned and it has been emphasized that the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Institutions had a very important role in protection of the rights of refugees and in findind a humanistic and legal solution based on the rights for the refugee crisis. Furthermore, the balance points between security and human rights has been emphasized and it has been expressed that a safe environment could not be created without the human rights.
In the first session of the Conference, the difficulties encountered in terms of refugee rights in the transit countries and in the target countries have been addressed. In the session moderated by the Board Member of Austrian Ombudsman, Günther Kräuter, the difficulties encountered in terms of the rights of refugees in countries of origin, in country of first entry and in the transit countries have been discussed; and on behalf of Turkish Ombudsman Institution, Ombudsman Mehmet Elkatmış and on behalf of Greek Ombudsman, the Deputy Ombudsman Vassilis Karydis have made speeches. Elkatmış, in his speech, has mentioned his concerns about the refugee crisis that is evolving into a deadlock, touched on the statistical data regarding the refugees and migrants in Turkey and the services provided to these people, and emphasized that this crisis could not be solved only with the efforts of Turkey, but that the international community should act together, in cooperation.
In this session, it also has been underlined that the Ombudsman and National Human Rights Institutions had to be more functional and efficient on refugee rights, the rights of all refugees and migrants had to be protected without considering their legal status, and a humanitarian, fair and positive approach had to be adopted, and in addition to that, the lack of capacity has been emphasized.
In the subsequent session entitled “The Difficulties Encountered in the Target Countries Regarding the Human Rights of Refugees and Migrants”, the Director of the German Institute for Human Rights, Beate Rudolf, Netherland’s Deputy Ombudsman, Adriana Stehouwer, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia, Irene Vojáčková-Sollorano have made presentations. In this session, the increasing incidences of violence, hate speeches against refugees and the centers providing services for these people, and the difficulties encountered in the process of recording of these people have been mentioned, especially the the issues such as the necessity of ensuring the integration of refugees and migrants with the local community in these countries, family reunifications, vulnerable groups, employment opportunities have been emphasized issues.
In the third session of the Conference, the issue reagarding the “Common Difficulties Encountered by the Vulnerable Groups Among the Refugees and Migrants have been discussed, in this context, from the Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Goranka Lalic Novak, UNICEF Director in Serbia, Michel Saint-Lot and Human Rights Adviser Claude Cahn, from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have made presentations. During the session in the first instance, it has been focused on the definition of vulnerable groups, and it has been mentioned that children, the disabled, pregnant and lonely women and the victims of torture or human trafficking or traumatized people were among these groups, these groups could become more open to violations especially in the transit countries, and the necessity of making further arrangements and providing services for these people.
In the first seccion of the second day, which has been moderated by the Ombudsman of the Republic of Macedonia, Ixhet Mehmeti, Serbian Ombudsman Saša Janković, Albanian Ombudsman Igli Totozani, Croatian Ombudsman Lora Vidović and from the Protection Office at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Migrants, the Serbia Representative, Anne-Birgitte Krum-Hansen have made speeches on how the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Institutions would reach to the common objectives. In the first session, it has been focused on how the National Human Rights Institutions and the Ombudsman could influence the policy development process and the management, which tools they could use during this process and how they could benefit from the expertise of non-governmental organizations. The importance of developing the relationships with the non-governmental organizations and the media and of ensuring the coordination at both national and international levels have been emphasized.
The Conference, where the examples of different countries have been studied in relation to protection of human rights of refugees and migrants and the experience sharings have been made, increasing the dialogue and cooperation between national human rights institutions have been intended, has ended with the adoption of the “Declaration on Protection and Improvement of Human Rights of Refugees and Migrants” prepared by the contribution of institutions and organizations, and with the closing speeches of the Commissioner of the Human Rights Institution of Scotland and the Chairperson of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, Alan Miller and Serbian Ombudsman Saša Janković.
In the declaration text, the representatives of Human Rights Institution of Turkey have made suggestions on the issues such as ensuring the direct participation of given groups in determining the policy on refugees and migrants, while considering the vulnarable groups to give place to the elderly and the LGBTI individuals, and taking into account the social gender perspective in the entirety of Declaration text.
Turkish translation of the Declaration will be published on our website in the forthcoming days.
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