About the Tribunal

The International Migrant Tribunal on the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) put on trial the GFMD for its neoliberal design on migration that posits that sustained and orderly migration leads development. This event particularly highlighted the resistance of grassroots migrants against such machinations.

The tribunal heard testimonies from witnesses from migrant grassroots organizations that actively oppose the GFMD. These organizations coordinated and planned the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) in Manila (2008), Athens (2009), and Mexico City (2010). Judges heard testimony from three expert witnesses and six issue based witnesses.

The organizers prepared an indictment and served the indictment to the accused. The accused was the various national governments who have played key roles in the GFMD, in particular members of the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee includes Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Migrant Tribunal invite

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The Verdict

The judges of the International Migrants’ Tribunal found the GFMD guilty of all charges.

Excerpts from the Verdict shown below:

“The Complainants have indeed taken a significant historical step in their continuing efforts to chronicle and document the long-running abuses and unbridled violations of the human rights of migrants all over the world.  They had come together as one before this political Tribunal in a bold move to utilize another alternative forum to make accountable the forces and institutions that perpetuate their exploitation, misery and plight.

Complainants have established with clear, convincing and credible evidence that the neoliberal globalization design on migration that meets the needs of imperialist countries and maintains the supply of cheap and skilled contractual workers from developing and underdeveloped countries is crystallized in Defendant GFMD.

Several years after its inception, Defendant GFMD continues to disseminate the notion that migration leads to development. It has been pushing harder for the alignment of migration policies to complement neo-liberal policies. The intent is to regulate the flow of cheap labor, keeping in mind the economic benefits from migrant labor. Whatever economic gains derived from migration benefit a small minority (e.g. big business, bureaucrats) especially in countries of origin.

Defendant GFMD’s ostensible thrust is to promote “migration for development.” In reality, Defendants are complicit in the crimes of commodification, criminalization of the undocumented and death on the borders, modern-day slavery, and criminal neglect and abuse of the rights and welfare of migrants.

The Defendant GFMD thereby helps prop up and perpetuate States’ socio-economic systems that oppress and exploit not only migrants and migrant families but the broad majority of toiling people.”

The Verdict includes the following recommendations from the judges:

  1. The abolition of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and the abrogation of its policies.
  2. The adoption by sending States of genuine national economic development policies that will curb forced migration. States are enjoined to adopt policies that will develop local economy, promote employment opportunities for its people and discourage migration;
  3. The adoption and implementation by the States of national policies that are in line with international instruments such as the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrants and Their Families. Existing policies that do not accord with such international instruments should be rescinded;
  4. Defendants should investigate, prosecute, institute effective mechanisms, compensate and indemnify the migrant victims and their families for the damage they have sustained as a result of the violations, crimes, and offenses herein charged
  5. Defendants should give restitution to the migrants of the material, personal, and moral damages that resulted from the implementation of the immoral, unjust, and inhumane policies of Defendant GFMD like EU Return Directive;
  6. Scrap globalization policy of receiving and sending States as it was proven detrimental to rights of the peoples of the world to life, dignity, liberty, livelihood, and self determination, among others
  7. Scrap the labor export policy and institute a rights-based policy approach on migration.

To read the full verdict of the International Migrant Tribunal on the GFMD please see the link below:

Verdict

The Indictment

The Indictment accused the GFMD as represented by the heads of states and various agencies of the following charges:

  1. Violation of the Complainants’ human rights. At the pretext of protecting Complainants’ human rights, the Defendants prescribe migration policies in furtherance of their neoliberal agenda of commodification of labor and modern-day slavery.
  2. Criminal neglect of Complainants’ economic rights and violation of their political, economic, social and cultural rights by the Sending States.
  3. Violation of the Complainants’ political, economic, social and cultural rights by the Receiving States.

Other excerpts from the Indictment:

“Since its first meeting in Brussels in 2007, Defendant GFMD’s agenda, through and represented by the heads of governments and relevant agencies of the States forming its Steering Committee, and all other similar formations or other entities acting for or on its behalf, name and stead, has been to intensify the commodification of migrant workers by enforcing neo-liberal globalization policies even further through various schemes. The flexibilization of labor in a global scale is one of the major components of the neoliberal policy.

While it professes to pursue migration to lead to genuine development, it has become obvious that Defendant GFMD aims only to “manage migration” and not to solve the roots of forced migration. In its second meeting in Manila, it talked about the rights of migrants but only insofar as these do not deter in the alignment of migration to national development policies dictated by neoliberal globalization…

Several years after its inception, Defendant GFMD, through and represented by the heads of governments and relevant agencies of the States forming its Steering Committee, and all other similar formations or other entities acting for or on its behalf, name and stead, continues to disseminate the notion that migration leads to development. It has been pushing harder for the alignment of migration policies to complement neo-liberal policies. Simply put, the intent is to regulate the flow of cheap labor, keeping in mind the economic benefits from migrant labor…

Many destination countries have established more stringent labor and immigration laws and enforcing tighter border controls. Immigration agencies have conducted more raids which have become harsher. There is also an increasing trend in criminalizing migrants without appropriate papers. Under these laws, migrant workers are treated as criminals…Defendants  are complicit in the crimes of commodification, criminalization of the undocumented and death on the borders,  modern-day slavery, as well as criminal neglect and abuse of the rights and welfare of migrants.”

To read the full Indictment served on the member countries of the GFMD please click below:

The Indictment