Experts of Committee on Rights of Migrant Workers Commend Bolivia for its Comprehensive Report and Ask about Migrant Monitoring

OHCHR

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families this afternoon concluded its consideration of the third periodic report of Bolivia on measures taken to implement the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, with Committee Experts commending the comprehensive report and asking about the country’s so-called migrant monitoring oversight operations.

A Committee Expert commended the State for the comprehensive report submitted, which contained around 30 annexes. The report set out a lot of statistical information, in particular disaggregated statistics which allowed the Committee to better understand the situation of migrant workers in the country. Regarding the so-called migrant monitoring oversight operations, how did they take place? Messages disseminated on social media spoke about police operations and searching for criminals and gave the impression there was a link between irregular migration and crime. Were individuals caught up in those operations forced to leave the country, or was there another type of outcome? The operations had taken place alongside the regularisation process described by the delegation. It seemed as if people were being expelled who could benefit from the regularisation process.

In opening remarks, Ivan Manolo Lima Magne, Minister of Justice and Institutional Transparency and head of the delegation, said Bolivia’s Constitution guaranteed that all nationals and foreign workers in Bolivia could freely exercise their rights. Bolivia had taken steps to ensure the rights of migrant workers and their families, including through adopting national regulations, punishing discrimination, and through signing and ratifying international instruments. The delegation looked forward to working constructively with the Committee.

In response to questions, the delegation explained that migrant monitoring oversight operations were not raids; Bolivia did not criminalise migrants. Those operations were undertaken to ensure that the proper routes to enter the country were being used. Due to border closures following the COVID-19 pandemic, irregular routes into the country had multiplied, and people had made money smuggling people across the border. The operations aimed to show people that they could enter the country legally, as the borders were open, and that there was no need to enter Bolivia on an illegal basis. Carrying out migrant monitoring oversight operations contributed to the regulatory process around migration. Migration control and monitoring was carried out nationwide, aiming to ensure regular migration.

In concluding remarks, Pablo Ceriani Cernadas, Committee Expert and country co-rapporteur for Bolivia, said the Committee’s recommendations would be focused on supporting the State in its efforts to build on all the good work being done for a positive impact on foreigners in Bolivia and Bolivians abroad.

Pablo César Garcia Saenz, Committee Rapporteur and country co-rapporteur for Bolivia, thanked the delegation, saying the Committee was grateful for the dialogue shared over the past two days.

Mr. Magne called on countries around the world to treat Bolivian nationals in a dignified fashion, according to their rights. Bolivia was committed to accepting and implementing the recommendations which would be made.

The delegation of Bolivia was comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Justice and Institutional Transparency; the Government Ministry; Professional Education; and the Permanent Mission of Bolivia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The webcast of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families thirty-fifth session can be found here.

The Committee will next meet in public at 10 a.m. on Monday, 25 September, to conclude its review of the combined second and third periodic report of Syria (CMW/C/SYR/2-3).

Report

The Committee has before it the third periodic report of Bolivia (CMW/C/BOL/3).

Presentation of Report

IVAN MANOLO LIMA MAGNE, Minister of Justice and Institutional Transparency and head of the delegation, said a key concern was the plight of migrant workers abroad. Bolivia’s Constitution guaranteed that all nationals and foreign workers in Bolivia could freely exercise their rights. Bolivia had taken steps to ensure the rights of migrant workers and their families, including through adopting national regulations, punishing discrimination, and through signing and ratifying international instruments.

In 2015, free identity cards were granted to migrants, and in 2016 steps were taken to streamline the process for temporary and permanent residents. A 2018 law had been enacted to review the conferring of citizenship to those born to a Bolivian mother or father abroad. A process was adopted in August 2022 to fully guarantee the rights of migrant workers in the country. The State’s pension system obligated all insurance providers to guarantee access for migrant workers and their families. In 2011, the inter-American social security agreement was implemented, particularly the insurance component addressing the issues of death, accidents, and retirement.

Bolivia had amended a law governing its “Unified, Universal and Free Health System,” which provided comprehensive free health care to foreigners. That was a reciprocal agreement; Bolivians abroad should also have access to the same services. It was a system for those most in need.

In Bolivia, the right to education was guaranteed, without any form of discrimination. The number of foreign students in the educational system had been gradually increasing.

A significant percentage of migrants who had taken steps to regularise their migration status had found it positive when it came to family reunification.

Mr. Magne said that yesterday, the President had shared Bolivia’s 14 proposals for a better world at the United Nations General Assembly. They included, among other initiatives, the goal of universal citizenship, and setting aside the arms race in favour of a human-centred approach, where health care took priority over trade and commerce. The State had declared a decade to tackle violence against women and girls, including migrant women and girls. The delegation looked forward to working constructively with the Committee.

Questions by Committee Experts

PABLO CERIANI CERNADAS, Committee Expert and country co-rapporteur for Bolivia, welcomed the 2013 adoption of the Migration Act, which included a rights-based approach and provided for a National Migration Board. How had it been set up, and how had its challenges been addressed?

What happened to migrants who fell outside certain groups when it came to Bolivia’s universal health care system?

What measures were being adopted to strengthen consular assistance? Did Bolivians abroad have representation in Parliament? What was being done to clamp down on hate speech and xenophobic speech, including speech accusing migrants of being behind crime?

The Committee had received reports about a series of raids targeting migrant workers and their families, who were then marched directly to the border following those raids, without any judicial process. Children and young people were often caught up in those raids and subsequently expelled. Could the delegation provide information about whether that happened, and if so, how it happened? When it came to children caught up in those raids, how were their rights protected?

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