Corporate impunity, legal protection of refugees and migrants (statements to UN)

The ICJ today delivered an oral statement at the UN Human Rights Council, addressing global responses to corporate impunity, and addresing the role of judges and lawyers in relation to refugees and migrants.

The statement came in a clustered interactive dialogue with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. These independent experts appointed by the Council were presenting their respective annual reports to the Council.

The ICJ stated as follows:

The ICJ welcomes the Study of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, on cross-border cooperation between States with respect to law enforcement in relevant cases (A/HRC/35/33). The ICJ concurs with the Working Group’s concern for the “lack of political will by States to address business-related human rights abuses through the lens of criminal law” (para. 4) and the near-total lack of investigations and prosecutions against companies regarding human rights abuses and international crimes (para. 87).

The ICJ also concurs that a global approach is needed to address corporate impunity and supports the Working Group’s recommendations for adoption of legal frameworks imposing liability on legal entities (para. 93), creation of specialized investigative and prosecutorial units in cross-border human rights cases, and joint investigations. The ICJ would like to ask how the Working Group will support States to put these recommendations into practice?

The ICJ also welcomes the proposal of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants for a 2035 agenda for facilitating human mobility. We particularly support the goal of effective access to justice for all migrants, and the targets and indicators on access to lawyers and courts for this goal, and in relation to returns and detention.

The ICJ has published a set of Principles on the Role of Judges and Lawyers in Relation to Refugees and Migrants, developed in consultation with leading practitioners and experts from around the world. We encourage States and other actors to take account of the detailed guidance in the ICJ Principles, including during the process for adoption of the Global Compacts foreseen by the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, and in considering the Special Rapporteur’s proposal. We would like to ask the Special Rapporteur how States can better recognise and enable the role of judges and lawyers in relation to migrants?

The Chair of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, in his concluding remarks, recognised the statement of the ICJ, and answered that the Working Group plans to follow up its report with a continuing conversation about its recommendations, and will reach out to stakeholders for further consultation on what more the WG can do in this regard.

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants also recognised the statement of the ICJ, and in his reponse emphasised that access to justice for migrants is key, including competent well-resourced lawyers, access to meaningful recourse, better funding for National Human Rights Institutions and ombudspersons, and providing in administrative law procedural safeguards that are commensurate to the risks that migrants face when such decisions are applied to them.

AdvocacyNon-legal submissions