IOM, the UN Migration Agency, promotes that migration takes place in a humane and orderly manner, providing services and assistance to governments and migrants. As part of this mission, IOM advocates and engages only in those migration governance initiatives that represent the best solutions, both for migrants and for their countries and communities of origin, transit, destination and return.
Based on this principle, IOM does not engage, participate or advocate for any type of forced return, including deportations.
Deportation is the act of the State in the exercise of its sovereignty by which it sends a foreigner out of its territory, to another place, after refusing its admission or if the permit to remain in that State has been terminated.
However, in the exercise of its sovereignty, the State is obliged to respect people's human rights and to adhere to the law. In this vein, deportations, like any other act of the State, must always be carried out with full respect for deportees' human rights.
But beyond the legality of deportation, migration policies in general - and deportations, in particular - must necessarily value and reconcile the right of States, with the protection of the rights and individual freedom of every person, regardless of their immigration status.
Although such assessment can be complicated, in no way we should consider that the concepts of sovereignty and human rights are mutually exclusive. There is no magical or universally applicable migratory formula for the State to exercise its power to withdraw a migrant from its territory. But there are, nevertheless, effective and human ways of doing it.
Good migration governance respects the sovereign right of a State to decide who can enter its territory, and demand of those who enter it abide by its laws and respect its customs; but it also ensures people's rights and takes into account the principles of solidarity and humanity, considering the need to migrate that many people have had throughout history in the quest for a better life for themselves and their families; in fact, the oldest poverty reduction strategy known to mankind has been migration.
Indiscriminate deportation leaves aside the second element of this more human scenario for migration.
For IOM, the decision to deport a person or not must include, among other elements, international human rights standards and instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on Human Rights of the Child, or the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.
Moreover, there are many ways in which governments can approach a more humane governance of migration, such as decriminalizing irregular migration, opening regularization processes for migrants who meet certain requirements or adopting laws that allow dual citizenship and multiple-entry visa are some of the approaches to this scenario.
There are also voluntary return programmes and reintegration, which safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants by specifying returns while linking the return of migrants to the development of their communities of origin and preventing the recurrence of irregular migration. Since 1979, IOM has assisted the voluntary return of 1.3 million migrants to their home countries.
Achieving a human governance of migration is not only an ethical imperative but also a necessity for the growth of origin and destination countries and an urgent call for the multiple benefits of orderly and humane migration to be recognized.
About the author:
Marcelo Pisani is the Regional Director of IOM for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. Mr. Pisani has 18 years of experience in project management, development of public policies, and in other areas related to fight poverty and the care of vulnerable populations in emergency situations. Previously he served as IOM's Chief of Mission in Colombia and Zimbabwe, and worked for the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He is an architect of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.