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The role of statistics in migration policies

On April, 22 2013 the IIMA Human Rights Office took part in a meeting concerning “The role of migration statistics for treaty reporting and migration policies”, at Palais Wilson in Geneva.   The discussion was organised by the UN Committee in the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW) and also attended by representatives of Governments, UN Committees, International Organizations and various NGOs. The meeting was aimed at focusing on the importance of statistics concerning migrant workers, particularly immigration and the basic human rights of the workers and their families. Many authoritative experts, including representatives of the Program on the Elimination of Child Labour of the ILO (International Labour Organization), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Organization of Migration (IOM), underlined that the lack of precise data and accurate statistics is a major roadblock that denies the ability to elaborate adequate policies for migrants, especially protection of their rights.

During the meeting experts discussed the problems that originated from the lack of good statistics on migration, but also made proposals and highlighted  good practices already in place.  One of the practices mentioned was the Voluntary System on Migrant Smuggling, presented by the UN Office in Drugs and Crimes, which is an internet-based system where the States can provide data on national irregular migration, migrant smuggling and on national policies adopted to face the problem. Another presentation involved the IOM database on trafficking of persons, which is based on information directly provided by victims to better understand and prevent future occurrences.  Mr. Rush, Professor at Oxford University, proposed to create a global migration database accessible to the public through an internet website, which would be a useful instrument not only for social experts to have a clear perception of the phenomenon, but  one that could also positively affect public policies concerning migrants’ rights.
During the general discussion, many State-representatives and members of the Committee took the floor to emphasis the fact that migrants are, above all, human beings living in difficult situations and needing special protection. Even if statistics seem to be very distant from migrants’ problems, they can play a fundamental role for the elaboration of policies directly concerning the rights of migrant workers. 

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