The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families today concluded its consideration of the second periodic report of Burkina Faso on measures taken to implement the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, with Committee Experts asking about remittances and about voting for members of the diaspora.
A Committee Expert asked whether the increase in remittances sent by migrants had resulted in the Government developing assistance programs? Was there a policy in place to raise awareness among Burkinabe abroad around sending remittances? Were there costs associated with that, and was investment advice provided to support the transfer of funds? Did Burkina Faso have representation of the diaspora within its Parliament? Could nationals living abroad be voted into Parliament?
Introducing the report, Maître Barthélémy Kere, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Burkina Faso and head of the delegation, said that Burkina Faso had ratified the Convention in November 2003, reflecting the country's desire to protect all migrant workers on its territory and Burkinabe migrant workers living abroad.To ensure the effective exercise of the political rights of Burkinabe migrant workers abroad, the revision of the electoral code, which took place in 2018, allowed the operationalisation of the vote of citizens residing abroad.
In the ensuing discussion, the delegation explained that the socio-economic situation in Burkina Faso was greatly assisted by the remittances sent by migrants, comprising over 3.4% of gross national product. Therefore, the Government needed to introduce measures to encourage migrants working abroad to send even more remittances back to the country. Most of those funds were used for supporting families. Forums had been organized to show members of the diaspora and citizens where they could make productive investments, to help assist development in a broader sense. Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there was a unit for investment economies and migrants, which encouraged citizens to invest in Burkina Faso. The Electoral Commission had visited many countries to have information sessions with citizens of the diaspora. More than 20,000 had been able to be enrolled and vote after those sessions.
In closing remarks, Maître Kere said Burkina Faso valued the efforts made by the Committee to protect the rights of all migrant workers and their families throughout the world. The Government of Burkina Faso remained firmly committed to human rights and would spare no effort following up on the concluding observations.
Mamane Oumaria, Committee Expert and country co-rapporteur for Burkina Faso, said the Committee was fully aware of the challenges that Burkina Faso had to face, and noted very real will on behalf of the authorities to improve the situation, to harmonise legislation, and to abide by the rules of various instruments relating to employment and migrants.
Edgar Corzo Sosa, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and said the intention of the dialogue was to work together. It had been a truly constructive dialogue, working toward a shared goal.
The delegation of Burkina Faso was comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Territorial Administration, Decentralization and Security; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and Burkinabe Abroad; the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, In Charge of Relations with Institutions; the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Forecasting; the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene; the Ministry of National Education, Literacy and Promotion of National Languages; the Ministry of Public Service, Due Labor and Social Protection; the Ministry of Gender and Family; the National Social Security Fund; the National Institute of Statistics and Demography; the Permanent Secretariat of the National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation; and the Embassy of the Permanent Mission of Burkina Faso to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue the concluding observations and recommendations on the report of Burkina Faso at the end of its thirty-fourth session, which concludes on 8 April. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/.
The Committee will next meet in public on Thursday, 31 March at 3 p.m. to begin its constructive dialogue on the combined initial to third periodic report of Cabo Verde (CMW/C/CPV/1-3).
The Committee has before it the second report of Burkina Faso (CMW/C/BFA/2).
Presentation of the Report
MAÎTRE BARTHÉLÉMY KERE, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Burkina Faso and head of the delegation, introducing the report, said that Burkina Faso had ratified the Convention in November 2003, reflecting the country's desire to protect all migrant workers on its territory and Burkinabe migrant workers living abroad.The Constitution stated that all citizens and persons living in Burkina Faso enjoyed equal protection of the law. The implementation of those constitutional norms was materialised through the country's accession to multilateral conventions. Payment agreements had been concluded between the National Social Security Fund of Burkina Faso and those of neighbouring countries. Migrant workers were able to benefit from payment agreements and social security agreements. Migrant workers were treated equally with nationals in terms of pay and working conditions. The Labour Inspectorate held responsibility for all matters relating to workers' conditions, professional relations and the coordination and monitoring of services and bodies involved in the application of social legislation.
Burkina Faso had conducted its fifth general population and housing census in 2019, the data of which provided comprehensive information disaggregated by sex, age, and other socio-demographic characteristics of migrants. According to that source, in 2019 there were 390,251 international immigrants in Burkina Faso, including 40,384 foreigners. The Government had developed a national migration strategy aiming to ensure the effective protection and guarantee of migrants' rights for an optimal contribution to development, to consolidate peace and social cohesion, and to promote regional and sub-regional integration and international cooperation. The deterioration of the security situation in several parts of the country had resulted in the closure of schools and the displacement of populations. As of February 2022, the number of internally displaced persons was estimated at more than 1.8 million. To guarantee the right to education of children affected by the security context, the Government had adopted a national strategy for education in emergency situations, accompanied by a three-year action plan which addressed the reopening of schools, the care of internally displaced students and teachers, the construction of school infrastructure, and the rehabilitation of infrastructure degraded by terrorist activities or natural phenomena.
To ensure the effective exercise of the political rights of Burkinabe migrant workers abroad, the revision of the electoral code, which took place in 2018, allowed the operationalisation of the vote of citizens residing abroad. With a view to addressing the issue of the exploitation of migrants, Burkina Faso had signed several agreements in the context of the fight against trafficking and cross-border mobility of persons, including a cooperation agreement with Nigeria to prevent and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, among others. Burkina Faso had also carried out a study on trafficking in persons. As part of the implementation of a cooperation agreement with Côte d'Ivoire, 126 intercepted child victims of cross-border trafficking had been escorted back to Burkina Faso in 2021. Challenges remained in safeguarding the dignity and rights of migrant workers regardless of their migratory status. Burkina Faso would spare no effort to fill the gaps and meet the challenges it faced in the promotion and protection of the rights of migrants.
Questions by Committee Experts
MAMANE OUMARIA, Committee Expert and country co-rapporteur for Burkina Faso, welcomed the delegation and appreciated the efforts they had made to be involved in the dialogue, despite difficult circumstances. He also welcomed the adoption of laws, including setting up a regime for workers without discrimination on the basis on nationality. The adoption of the national migration strategy, which offered protection for migrants, was also noted. The State party should address the harmful consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic virus on migrants, including guaranteeing equitable access to vaccination for all migrants and their families, regardless of their migration status. Noting the State party’s efforts to improve data collection on migrants, the absence of disaggregated data available was a matter of concern. The Committee recommended the State party to create a centralised database which was disaggregated by age, sex and other factors, for a better implementation of its migration policy. Burkina Faso should ensure training programmes were systematically provided to civil servants and staff who were dealing with issues relating to migration. The State party should also provide civil society with the necessary tools to participate in the implementation of the Convention.
LAZHAR SOUALEM, Committee Expert and country co-rapporteur for Burkina Faso, said that Burkina Faso was facing many challenges, exacerbated by organized transnational crime. What measures had been taken to give effect to and align the laws of Burkina Faso with the Convention? Was the Convention invoked in the courts? Could examples be provided? What was being done to ensure the public was aware of the Convention? Did Burkina Faso have representation of the diaspora within its Parliament? Could nationals living abroad be voted into Parliament?
A Committee Expert said it was important to provide a gender balance in the delegation and hoped that would be achieved in the future. How were the rights of migrants who were working in mines ensured? What was the national human rights mechanism and how was it effective? Did it monitor the enjoyment of human rights of migrants?
A Committee Expert asked about measures taken to inform those abroad of their rights, as per the Convention. Were training programmes in place before migrants left for abroad? What efforts were being made by the Government for workers in mining activities in other countries such as Senegal? Could more information be provided on measures taken to facilitate access to higher education for the children of migrants returning to the country? What measures were being taken to address the deep-rooted causes of migration?
A Committee Expert asked for information about the situation of migrant women who were victims of prostitution in mines. What mechanisms were available to lead someone in an irregular situation to become regular?
A Committee Expert said that for many years, Burkina Faso had been considered a reservoir for labour for the whole of the region, and a large number of people went to work in Côte D’Ivoire. What had been done to improve data on immigration? It was noted that the global press printed articles about child labour in Burkina Faso; what was the situation in that regard?
A Committee Expert noted that Burkina Faso had significant legislation in place, confirming the interest the country had protecting the rights of migrant workers. It was noted that Burkina Faso had not ratified a Convention around domestic workers; did the government intend to ratify that Convention? Did the labour inspectorate have the resources to do its job properly? How many labour inspections were carried out?
A Committee Expert asked for more precise data about countries which received migrant workers from Burkina Faso, and how their rights were provided for in those countries. Another Committee Expert asked whether the increase in remittances sent by migrants had resulted in the Government developing assistance programs? Had families been assisted, and did they have consular assistance outside the country? A Committee Expert asked about the status of employment policy in Burkina Faso. Did it keep workers inside the country?
Responses by the Delegation
Responding to questions on trafficking, the delegation said that several measures had been undertaken by the country to combat the scourge. Most of the relevant legal instruments had been ratified, including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Legal texts and laws had also been adopted to combat human trafficking. Burkina Faso believed sub-regional cooperation was the best strategy to address organized crime. A range of agreements had been signed between Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries, to protect women and children against trafficking. Community awareness was a key strategy to prevent trafficking and assist the reintegration of those who had returned. The delegation said that children were assessed in each situation and information was taken to try and seek out their family.
A decree was in place from 2010 which governed domestic workers within the country. There were 255 labour inspectors in Burkina Faso, working across 13 regional units, however there were challenges for them to complete their work, in receiving complaints and addressing any issues relating to migrant workers. The regional inspection units had teams which worked at the grassroots, which had information services for all workers, including migrants. Mining inspectors within those units dealt with health and safety considerations in mines. The labour inspection units were open to migrant workers for information and advice, and training for workers was provided. The labour inspection units also carried out inspections in the informal sector, where child labour was most prevalent. The delegation said there was no specific mechanism in place for those who had a family member working abroad, however a system was in place to support vulnerable families, which could include migrants.
A national observatory on migration was being planned, as well as a permanent data collection system on employment and the informal sector, which would allow better monitoring of that work and employment among the migrant population. Codes were in place which stated that all persons, including migrants, could refer a matter to the courts so that their complaint could be heard. Cases had been brought to the authorities concerning corruption and torture, with judicial proceedings initiated regarding those complaints. Until 2018, Burkina Faso did not have a clearly defined protection system for victims, witnesses, and whistle-blowers. However, recent developments had resulted in the revision of the penal code and chapters were included which needed to be read in conjunction with protection of whistle-blowers and victims. Further amendments needed to be made to provide better protection to those people in Burkina Faso.
Regarding access to secondary education for the children of migrant workers, any person living in Burkina Faso was entitled to education, without discrimination. All children of migrant workers were entitled to education at all levels and benefitted from the same enrolment process as others. Free health care was provided to all people, including for family planning. Anyone in the country could access the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge. Regarding workers in mines, some had better access to healthcare than others. The Ministry of Health was making quality care its battle cry. No one was required to provide their migration status or nationality before receiving healthcare.
The Government had organized workshops around the concluding observations on Burkina Faso’s first report to the Committee, which had been an opportunity to disseminate knowledge of the Convention across the country. During the sessions, the Convention and the relevant legal text made available. An implementation action plan had been drafted, with the goal of strengthening human rights education in different educational establishments. That highlighted the efforts the Government was making to broaden the knowledge of human rights for compatriots living abroad. Between 2018-2019, information and awareness-raising missions were organized abroad at 38 consulates, helping people to learn about their rights and obligations.
The delegation welcomed the thanks from the Committee regarding the creation of the body for the diaspora. The Electoral Commission had visited many countries to have information sessions with citizens of the diaspora. More than 20,000 had been able to be enrolled and vote after those sessions.
The delegation said Burkina Faso had implemented a range of measures to protect children during the migration process, including the signing of sub-regional agreements, most recently with Nigeria. That ensured children could access necessary services during migration, whether accompanied or not. Burkina Faso had set up intersectoral “single windows” on the borders, which allowed children to access health and social information. Grassroots committees were in place across the territory, which were places young migrants could receive information from organizers, who were former young migrants themselves.
The delegation said that in Burkina Faso, poverty had a rural face, with 90 percent of poor people coming from a rural area. A national migration strategy had been set up to address the imbalance between rural and urban areas. Programmes had been set up to train young people in a range of skills including poultry rearing, beekeeping, financial training and how to search for jobs. A project funded by the World Bank was in place to keep young people in their local areas. The National Employment Strategy in Burkina Faso had four key areas, including improving employability, strengthening the dynamics of job creation, improving the quality of jobs and improving the governance and the labour market. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government had managed to create over 44,000 decent jobs. The Government targeted specific regions where poverty had increased to try and generate further employment. Handing out free contraception helped address high birth rates in rural areas.
The delegation spoke about the protection of young Nigerian girls who were involved in prostitution in Burkina Faso. Bearing in the mind the massive influx of young girls, Burkina Faso had signed agreements which focused on the promotion and empowerment of women and the prevention and suppression of human trafficking. Those agreements meant States could share information and concerns, and pool resources to address the issue of human trafficking. Mobile teams were in place visiting places where young girls were acting as prostitutes to support themselves. Girls coming into Burkina Faso often came via middlemen and were then handed over to work as prostitutes. Therefore, it was vital to address the root causes, which meant the government needed to attack pimping. That involved setting up a core definition of pimping. Burkina Faso was trying to cast the net wide to address any cause which might result in a young girl going into prostitution.
Migrant workers must have valid identity documents, or they could experience detention or return from the border. Currently, when identity checks were carried out, only certain documents were valid for confirming identity, including a national identity card, a passport, a travel card or residency card, among others. To ensure the better protection of road users, the Government had implemented national coordination for the control of police forces.
The delegation spoke further about the mechanisms allowing irregular migrant workers to regularise their situation in Burkina Faso. Consular missions were regularly organized, to ensure that Burkina Faso nationals all over the world could have civil registration papers and travel documents. Throughout the 2019 elections, special travel documents had been issued, with the consular missions allowing for the delivery of special documents. Those documents were essential and allowed Burkina Faso compatriots to be in line with the laws of the country they were living in. There were 37 Burkina Faso embassies in other countries, some of which covered a range of regions. In Africa, Côte D’Ivoire was the country with the highest numbers of Burkina Faso migrant workers, followed by Mali, Guinea, and Gabon; the latter a new area for compatriots. According to a voluntary registration system, there were around 10 million Burkina Faso nationals abroad. Burkina Faso and Côte D’Ivoire had an amicable cooperation agreement which had solved many issues between the two countries. The concerns of citizens working at cocoa plantations were well known within the agreement, with activities underway to find solutions to those issues.
Burkina Faso had around a dozen mines outside the mains cities and towns. Under the labour code, employers there needed to provide workers with accommodation and foodstuffs. The Labour Inspectorate ensured those rules were respected. There was no distinction made between migrant workers and other workers; food was provided to all. If a worker complained about the food or living conditions, their complaint was considered.
Questions by Committee Experts
LAZHAR SOUALEM, Committee Expert and country co-rapporteur for Burkina Faso, asked about the cooperation Burkina Faso had with the International Organization for Migration and the International Labour Organization? Were there cooperation agreements between private companies outside the region? Could the level of transfers coming from the diaspora back to their country of origin be provided?
MAMANE OUMARIA, Committee Expert and country co-rapporteur for Burkina Faso, asked whether migrant workers created their own trade unions? Was there a policy in place to raise awareness among Burkinabe abroad around sending remittances? Were there costs associated with that, and was investment advice provided to support the transfer of funds? What actions were being taken to reduce the numbers of children in a street situation?
A Committee Expert noted that Burkina Faso had ratified the Labour Inspection Convention, which gave a particular status for labour inspectors? Did labour inspectors in Burkina Faso have the special status of impartiality?
Another Committee Expert asked for further information about the World Bank project on the integration of young people in the employment market. What measures had been taken to ensure that assistance to young people lasted beyond the life of the project? What support was given to allow young people to establish their own sustainable business? Were the countries in the Middle East a destination for workers?
A Committee Expert asked about migration and transit. It was noted that geographically, Burkina Faso was strategically located on a migration route. Could more information be provided on the agreements between Burkina Faso and the European Union? What changes had come about since the implementation of such agreements? Information had been received about extortion practices in places of deprivation of liberty; could the delegation provide information around that? What was Burkina Faso doing to identify the people who died along migration routes?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that Burkina Faso had some labour agreements with other countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The International Labour Organization was a privileged partner for Burkina Faso, which had ratified its Convention 143 on migrant workers. The issue of domestic workers who travelled to the Emirates was of concern. Any worker travelling to the Emirates needed a work contract approved by the Labour Inspectorate, with the right kind of clauses in the work contract. Certain destinations had been prohibited at the airport for compatriots, due to incorrect contractual clauses. Checks were done in partnership with airport security to ensure compatriots were protected.
Cooperation between the International Organization for Migration and Burkina Faso was going swimmingly, as they worked together to better manage migration in the country. Every time it was learned that a compatriot abroad was facing difficulty and wanted to return home, the compatriot could contact the International Organization for Migration for their return. The socio-economic situation in Burkina Faso was greatly assisted by the remittances sent by migrants, comprising over 3.4% of gross national product. Therefore, the Government needed to introduce measures to encourage migrants working abroad to send even more remittances back to the country. Most of those funds were used for supporting families. Forums had been organized to show members of the diaspora and citizens where they could make productive investments, to help assist development in a broader sense. Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there was a unit for investment economies and migrants, which encouraged citizens to invest in Burkina Faso. An investment fund was being established for the diaspora. A national workshop had been held looking at the effect of the diaspora on the economy, and at overcoming the challenges of transferring funds.
Burkina Faso had carried out a study of children living in street situations, with the aim to halve the number of children living on the streets. The Government had begun intensive activities in particular regions, initially conducting advocacy and awareness-raising with administrative authorities, rather than forcibly removing children from the street. That was followed by consultations and meetings and further workshops. There were centres for children as well as foster families which could take in children. If the children had links with their families, a return to the family was encouraged. New situations were arising due to the increasing numbers of displaced persons, with included adults as well as children living in the streets. The Government was aware of that and was trying to include the situation in its national strategies.
MAMANE OUMARIA, Committee Expert and country co-rapporteur for Burkina Faso, said the Committee was fully aware of the challenges that Burkina Faso had to face, and noted very real will on behalf of the authorities to improve the situation, to harmonise legislation, and to abide by the rules of various instruments relating to employment and migrants. Mr. Soualem thanked the delegation and wished them a safe journey back to Burkina Faso.
MAÎTRE BARTHÉLÉMY KERE, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Burkina Faso and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee for guiding the work over the past two days. Burkina Faso valued the efforts made by the Committee to protect the rights of all migrant workers and their families throughout the world. The delegation would make good note of the recommendations and had enjoyed the constructive nature of the dialogue, feeling as though it was a positive exchange, allowing all information on the country to be provided. The Government of Burkina Faso remained firmly committed to human rights and would spare no effort following up on the concluding observations. There were challenges to the full implementation of the Convention, such as terrorist attacks and increased internal displacement, and the delegation sought to use the opportunity to seek the assistance of partners to support the Government of Burkina Faso in protecting the rights of migrant workers and their families.
EDGAR CORZO SOSA, Committee Chair, thanked the delegation and said the intention of the dialogue was to work together. The efforts being made could be pooled to bring about better protection of the rights of migrant workers and their families. It had been a truly constructive dialogue, working toward a shared goal.
Link : https://ungeneva.unog.un.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/03/dialogue-burkina-faso-experts-committee-rights-migrant-workers
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