Joint NGO Statement ahead of the Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean, Bangkok, 29 May 2015

STATEMENT RELEASED ON 27 MAY 2015

Please find herein the Joint NGO Statement ahead of the intergovernmental Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean being held on 29 May 2015 hosted by the Royal Thai Government in Bangkok. The signatories below represent more than 600 non-governmental and civil society organisations operating across Asia and the Pacific regions.

We the undersigned welcome the decision of the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand to provide temporary shelter and protection to refugees and migrants rescued at sea as a step in the right direction.

We acknowledge that Thailand has called for a Special Meeting on Irregular Migration, on the 29th of May 2015 with 17 states invited to attend. We are hopeful that the meeting will pave the way for longer term, sustainable and durable solutions to address the irregular movements by sea from those seeking to escape poverty and/or persecution.

We are encouraged by announcements of the Indonesian, Malaysian, and Myanmar governments that search and rescue operations will be conducted to locate and rescue people in boats still at sea. We urge other governments to follow suit in conducting their own search and rescue operations.

We reiterate that all people who are in need have the right to request and receive humanitarian assistance and international protection with special attention paid to vulnerable women and children. All rescue at sea and interception operations should ensure access to disembarkation and access to full and fair asylum procedures for those who express a need for international protection.
Furthermore, we believe that no refugee should be penalized as a result of the way that she or he entered a country. The reception arrangements for those rescued at sea should be in line with international standards.

All authorities involved in border and immigration management should treat all persons with dignity and respect and in accordance with their obligations under human rights law.

Practical protection safeguards are required to be put in place and the differentiated protection requirements of people in this mixed population movement must be taken into consideration.
We are committed to support the efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the population.

We strongly urge the States involved to:

  1. Provide people rescued immediate access to humanitarian assistance, especially vulnerable women and children, with adequate food, water, health care, shelter and sanitation.
  2. Allow and facilitate access by humanitarian agencies and international organizations with protection mandates.
  3. Ensure that people rescued at sea are not penalized for the way they have entered the country.
  4. Those in need of international protection should be given access to asylum procedures.
  5. Explore and pursue durable solutions with processes that draw input from affected persons.
  6. Ensure procedural transparency and accountability to affected persons such that they are accorded due process of law and are fully informed of their rights and responsibilities and the limitations and time frames of any proposed solution.
  7. Urgently develop regional and national solutions that address the root causes of refugee and migrant outflows.

Signatories:’

Action Aid

Action Contre la Faim

AMAL Human Development Network

Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma

      1. Amnesty International Australia
      2. Asia Disaster Risk and Response Network
      3. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
      4. Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network
      5. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition
      6. Australian Council for International Development
      7. Australian National Committee on Refugee Women
      8. Badhan Hijra Sangha, Bangladesh
      9. Bangladesh Women’s Health Coalition
      10. BRAC
      11. Burma Partnership
      12. Business and Welfare Initiatives Bangladesh
      13. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association
      14. CARAM Asia Berhad
      15. CARAM Asia Network
      16. CARAM Cambodia
      17. Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees
      18. Centre for Migration Research and Development, Sri Lanka
      19. Centre for Participatory Research and Development, Bangladesh
      20. Centre for Refugee Research, University of New South Wales
      21. Children and Women Trust, Pakistan
      22. Church World Service
      23. Coastal Association for Social Transformation Trust, Bangladesh
      24. Community Development Services, Sri Lanka
      25. Community World Service Asia
      26. Empower India
      27. Equal Rights Trust
      28. Equity and Justice Working Group, Bangladesh
      29. Fortify Rights
      30. Gonggam Human Rights Law Foundation
      31. Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
      32. Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia
      33. IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
      34. Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion
      35. International Council of Voluntary Agencies
      36. International Movement of Catholic Students Asia Pacific
      37. International Refugee Rights Initiative
      38. ISDE Bangladesh
      39. Jakarta Legal Aid Institute
      40. Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific
      41. Knights for Peace, International
      42. Law Life Culture, Bangladesh
      43. Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid
      44. Light House, Bangladesh
      45. MAP Foundation, Thailand
      46. Mercy Malaysia
      47. Migrant Working Group, Thailand
      48. Migration Working Group, Malaysia
      49. Migrante International
      50. Minority Rights Organization, Cambodia
      51. Nepal Institute of Development Studies
      52. Norwegian Refugee Council
      53. Occupational Opportunities for Refugees & Asylum Seekers, Australia
      54. Overseas Services to Survivors of Torture and Trauma
      55. Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program, Bangladesh
      56. Oxfam Australia
      57. Oxfam Great Britain
      58. Oxfam International
      59. Participatory Research Action Network, Bangladesh
      60. Prodipan Bangladesh
      61. Refugee Council of Australia
      62. Refugee Rights Network Pakistan
      63. Resource Integration Centre, Bangladesh
      64. Rights Jessore, Bangladesh
      65. Same Skies, Indonesia
      66. Save the Children
      67. Shikha Shatha Unnayan Kazakram, Bangladesh
      68. Settlement Services International
      69. Society for Human Rights and Prisoners Aid, Pakistan
      70. St. John’s Cathedral HIV Education Centre, Hong Kong
      71. SUAKA, Indonesia Civil Society Network for Refugee Protection
      72. Swahili Speaking Refugee Women Advocacy Services, Australia
      73. Thai Commission for Refugees Foundation
      74. Vietnamese Human Rights Defenders and Activists
      75. WhyDev, Australia
      76. World Vision International – Asia Pacific
      77. Yayasan Kelompok Kerja Sosial Perkotaan, Indonesia
      78. Youth Advocacy Network South Asia
      79. Zo Indigenous Forum, India