If you were to ask an ordinary man on the street, “Who do you think deserves to benefit from human rights?”, he would no doubt instinctively respond ‘everyone!” But give him a little time to think, and he might come back with, “Well, not everyone, maybe not murderers…maybe not child abusers or rapists…”, and he may come up with a list of classes of people that have morally offended the society. It is a common misconception however, that these individuals among others are not entitled to human rights protection. Human Rights law is founded on a critical, overarching and universal principle, that:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights….”
If rapists, murderers and the like are offered a degree of protection, why then is it so difficult to extend the same courtesy in practice to newly resident migrants and non-citizens? Newly resident migrant groups and non-citizens are definitely entitled to the minority rights protection recognised by current international law, as human rights protection is non discriminatory. At an international level, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR 1966) reinforces this point further, but more specifically worded for the prevention of discrimination against minorities. The Human Rights Committee is a body of independent experts whose function is to monitor the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties. They have stated that:
“…The rights set forth in the Covenant apply to everyone, irrespective of reciprocity, and irrespective of his or her nationality or statelessness. Thus, the general rule is that each one of the rights of the Covenant must be guaranteed without discrimination between citizens and aliens.”
The only permitted exceptions to discrimination involve political rights that only apply to citizens, and freedom of movement . Additionally, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1969 defines ‘racial discrimination’ and explicitly states another narrow form of permitted discrimination. It specifies that distinctions can be made between citizens and non-citizens, but under the condition that all non-citizens are treated similarly. The Human Rights Committee in its General Recommendation XXX made clear the duty a state has towards non-citizens. This includes but is not limited to protection against hate speech and racial violence, access to citizenship, administration of justice, non-discriminatory expulsion and deportation of non-citizens, and economic, social and cultural rights. At the European level, Article 14 of The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights
and Fundamental Freedoms provides the rights relating to discrimination, provided the claim is linked to a right set out in the Convention.
When considering the minority rights available to newly resident migrant groups and non-citizens, it is necessary to determine whether they can...