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Chile pulls out of Marrakesch

Chile has joined the growing exodus from the United Nations Migration Compact. It has become the latest country to withdraw, President's Sebastian Pinera's administration announced.

Published: December 11, 2018, 8:26 am

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    A spokesperson for Chile’s Interior Ministry subsecretary, told Chilean Sunday paper El Mercurio in an interview that the country’s representatives would not attend the event in Marrakesh.

    “Our position is clear,” he said. “We have said that migration is not a human right. Countries have a right to determine the entry requirements for foreign citizens.”

    Migrants have been flooding into Chile from Venezuela, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Colombia, with its population increasing fivefold over the last 30 years.

    The conservative Pinera was voted into office in March on a promise to enforce stricter border measures. Leftist opposition figures called the withdrawal “shameful and authoritarian” behavior.

    The Chilean government has recently begun repatriation flights for Haitian migrants, deportations of criminal foreigners and has tightened visa controls.

    Amnesty International (AI) meanwhile called the withdrawal by Chile “alarming”. It has also criticised Italy in a report released on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday.

    The report lamented the “erosion of the human rights of asylum seekers” and complained about the “xenophobic rhetoric of the political world”.

    It said that Premier Giuseppe Conte’s government had “immediately distinguished itself for repressive management of the migratory phenomenon”.

    Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini, dismissed the report. “Drug-dealers, mafiosi, delinquents and illegal immigrants do not have asylum in my country,” he said. “My conscience is clean and I’m going to keep going”.

    Though Denmark has not withdrawn from the pact, immigration minister Inger Støjberg will be skipping the summit. She recently announced plans to ship migrants rejected for asylum to an uninhabited island in the Baltic Sea, where contagious diseases are studied.

    Last week, Marcel de Graaff, warned that the migration pact would make criticism of migration a “criminal offense”. De Graaff is a Dutch member of the European Parliament from the Party for Freedom, which cooperates with Geert Wilders.

    The UN Compact is “declaring migration as a human right,” de Graaff told reporters. “So it will be impossible to criticize ‘welcome migrants’ politics without being at risk to be jailed for hate speech.”

    Although the UN Global Compact claims that it is “in full respect for the freedom of the media”, the UN banned the Canadian outlet Rebel Media from attending the conference for the adoption of the UN Global Migration Compact.

    When Rebel Media asked for an explanation, they were told that the UN, “reserves the right to deny or withdraw accreditation of journalists from media organizations whose activities run counter to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, or who abuse the privileges so extended or put the accreditation to improper use or act in a way not consistent with the principles of the Organization. The decisions are final”.

    The UN has meanwhile slammed the “xenophobic” phrases such as “illegal immigrant” which it said was fuelling the “negative reactions” to its Migration Compact.

    But Belgian international law expert Pierre d’Argent has warned that spats over wording, including the notion of “non-binding” are deceptive. He said the UN proposes a “framework” which could be used by lawyers in future.

    Professor d’Argent, from the Université Catholique de Louvain, said: “The pact itself says that it establishes a framework of legally non-binding cooperation. It is a political instrument…”

    He told RTBF that “in some cases before international jurisdictions, lawyers use this pact as a reference tool to try to guide them”.

    German law professor Matthias Herdegen also believes that the Compact would be binding. Breitbart London reported that Herdegen said it occupied a “legal grey area”, which “gives the impression of [state] liability”.

    Roughly 258 million people are on the move worldwide — a 49 percent increase over 2000.

    UN members states adopted the Compact in Marrakech on Monday, defying critics. A total of 150 governments were represented at the UN conference at Heads of State level or by senior officials.

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