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UN agency wants media to highlight issues on migrants’ rights

by Haruna Gimba

By Muhammad Amaan

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)-West Africa Regional Office has urged the media to highlight issues that will advance migrant rights.

The Regional Representative of the office, Mr Robert Kotchani, who led a OHCHR delegation from the organisation’s regional office in Dakar, Senegal, made the call at a news conference organised by the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Abuja on Thursday.

Kotchani observed that migration-related issues have generated concerns not just within the sub-region but globally, saying that such issues could only be tackled by promoting human rights.

According to him, there are areas where actions that concern migration could be identified and sentenced, including to life imprisonment.

Kotchani said, “A media professional has an important role to play when it comes to the issue of migration.

“The UN OHCHR has implemented a project called ‘PROMIS,’ a joint initiative between the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and OHCHR with financial support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Republic of Italy.

“The project started in 2016 with three countries – Mali, Niger, and Senegal, which covers Nigeria.

“Media professionals must play pivotal role in ensuring stories are heard.

“Migration can be pleasant and adventurous. It can also be nightmare.

“Sensitisation about the need for human rights in all the stages of migration is important.

“Who can do that better than the media professionals? This is why when we talk about migration, we want you to be present.”

Kotchani added that the mission of the delegation was to find a way of meeting with ECOWAS and other partners.

This, according to him, is because there are two partners in programmes and projects that the OHCHR is managing.

“One is called APEG, which is a project that prevents and addresses human rights violations against children in five countries in West Africa.

“The second project is called PROMIS, it is a project which tries to project and tackle human rights violations affecting migrants.

“Our meeting with ECOWAS is focused on partnership towards the implementation of the two projects; PROMIS covers nine countries in West Africa and APEG covers five countries,” he added.

He also urged stakeholders such as government, non-governmental organisations and National Human Rights Commission to handle migration issues from a purely and strictly human rights viewpoint.

The project aims to strengthen the capacities of West African countries to develop a human rights-based response to smuggling of migrants and to effectively respond to human rights violations related to irregular migration.

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