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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 March, 2004, 09:46 GMT
Appeal over migrant rights
Brice Dickson: Migrant workers are
Brice Dickson: Migrant workers are "vulnerable"

The British and Irish governments have been urged to implement international laws guaranteeing the rights of migrant workers.

In a joint statement to mark International Day against Racism, the presidents of the human rights commissions on both sides of the Irish border, said the governments must show their commitment to fighting the scourge of racism.

The comments come after separate racist attacks on a man and a Chinese woman in Belfast in the past few days.

The woman was stoned by teenagers and the man badly beaten by a gang of five men.

On Sunday, both governments were urged to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families.

The convention, which came into force in July 2003, enshrines a range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Professor Brice Dickson, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, said most migrant workers holding work permits were in a vulnerable position.

Attacks on ethnic minority groups have increased
Attacks on ethnic minority groups have increased
"They may have made long-term plans in the UK and Ireland by having spouses and dependants join them here on the understanding that their permits will be renewed.

"Governments must ensure that employers will honour their contracts and guarantee fair and safe working conditions for all."

Dr Maurice Manning, President of the Irish Human Rights Commission said the development of immigrant policy throughout Ireland, the UK and the rest of the European Union must be underpinned by a commitment to human rights.

"Safeguarding the rights of migrant workers and their families is an essential component of the development of humane immigration policy and law," he added.

Earlier this month, the Policing Board urged the chief constable to crack down on rising levels of racial and homophobic attacks in Northern Ireland.

Such incidents were to be tackled as part of a 774m strategy for running the Police Service of Northern Ireland over the next 12 months.

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21 Mar 03  |  Northern Ireland

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