Participants of the discussion:
Olga Tseytlina, lawyer of the Migration and Law network
Mayram Saymikova, representative of migrant workers’ community
Olga Abramenko, Stefaniya Kulayeva, Andrei Yakimov, experts of the anti-discrimination centre “Memorial”
Rimma Sharifullina, president of the Association for promotion of social protection of citizens “Peterburgskaya EGIDA”
Oxana Putsko, director of the department of legal support and public relations of the Federal Migration Service in St Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
The round table event on advocacy of migrants’ rights and discrimination in the socio-economic sphere was timed to coincide with Human Rights Day on December 10. This year this topic is even more urgent. The UN Council on Human Rights declared 10 December 2010 a Day against Discrimination, and the year of 2010 the year of socio-economic rights. Also, in 2010 the 20th anniversary of the approval of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is celebrated. International organizations called to press for ratification of this convention by all countries which have not done it yet, including the Russian Federation.
Human rights activists and experts discussed all mentioned problems and an alternative report on “Discrimination in realisation of socio-economic rights of ethnic minorities and migrants of the North-West of the Russian Federation” presented by the human rights activists.
In 2011, the UN Committee on economic, social, and cultural rights will consider an official report of the Russian Federation as well as all alternatives reports on this subject. Human rights activists say that, unfortunately, in the government’s reports and initiatives too little attention is paid to the problems of non-citizens and ethnic minorities. Meanwhile, the Constitution of the Russian Federation as well as international agreements guarantee an adequate standard of living and opportunity of its realisation to all residents of the country, not only to its citizens. That is why, the experts think, it is of high importance to attract attention of international organizations as well as of Russian society to this subject.
Over last few years the issue of migration has become very topical in Russia. Lack of workers, demographic slump and the most economically attractive situation among the Commonwealth of Independent States have led to increase of migrant workers, people who arrive in search of living, and economic migrants – those who are need-driven. At the same time, life of newly arrived is difficult. They face discrimination, racism, illegal exploitation, corruption and cheating. In the report prepared by the experts of the ADC Memorial it is said that the rights to adequate working and living conditions, timely payment are violated in regard of migrant workers. Also, employers must bear responsibility for the documents of their workers. Migrants often become victims of cheaters from mediating firms or outsourcing companies. Visual minorities are in danger on the streets and in transport, at work and at home as aggression of racists, selective and cruel approach of police can catch them everywhere. If their documents are lost or wrongly issued, migrants may be imprisoned in inhuman conditions in the Centres for temporary alimony of foreigners waiting for deportation to the country of origin.
During the discussion it was indicated that migrants suffer from not rendering free medical aid, from difficulties with placement of children into schools. The most vulnerable group is Romani migrants. Not only in France, who infamously deported Romanis, but also in our city and country large Romani families live risking to be not only deported but arrested and imprisoned for a year only because no country calls them its citizens.
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