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A Migrant is a person who moves from one place to other place for many reasons like better living conditions, work purposes etc… There are two types of migrants: Immigrants and Emigrants. Immigrants are the migrants who move into a new place. Emigrants are persons who leave their own country or nation in order to settle permanently in another country. This process of relocating people from one country to another is called “Emigration”. People emigrate for many reasons like employment purposes, education purposes, livelihood purposes, etc. The most common causes for emigration are economic causes, in search of better employment and a better living environment for themselves and their children they start to emigrate. Recently due to COVID-19 Outbreak, many people are forced to leave their houses for better jobs.  Sometimes political causes like repressions or civil wars can also be the reasons for their emigration and emigration usually is directed towards the most developed countries because the opportunities for emigrants to survive will be high in the emigrant country. For example, according to the U.S, during the Ukraine – Russia war nearly 12 million people left their homes and went to other countries, especially Poland for their survival. And more than 5 million people have immigrated to neighbouring nations, and 7 million people have been internally displaced. Some more examples of emigration: Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. Due to flooding, this hurricane completely destroyed the region. Many locals were forced to leave the region as a result and relocate.

According to the United Nations human rights office of the high commissioner: Currently, an estimated 281 million people, or 3.6% of the world population, reside outside of their place of birth. Many of these migrants experience varied degrees of forced emigration. Emigration is not always carried on for positive purposes or the desire to have better living conditions, it is not the only factor that drives emigration. But sometimes emigration takes place due to uncontrollable factors such as wars, natural disasters and economic crises and these factors force the people to emigrate from one country to another country for their mere survival.


Emigration is a positive and empowering experience but this is becoming more obvious that due to lack of human rights-based emigration governance at the international and national level causes a violation of the rights of emigrants during their transit at international borders or an emigrant country. Human rights violation of emigrants includes the denial of economic, social, and cultural rights, such as the right to health, housing, or education, as well as the denial of civil and political rights, such as arbitrary arrest, and torture.

The human rights of the emigrants are protected by the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The main objective of OHCHR is to promote, protect and uphold the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status, and a special emphasis on those emigrants who are at the greater risk of violation of human rights. OHCHR promotes a human rights-based perspective on migration that puts the migrant at the centre of migration policies and governance in order to ensure that migrants are included in all pertinent national action plans and strategies, such as plans for the provision of public housing or national strategies to combat racism and xenophobia.


According to International Human Rights law, it is stated that every person has a right to leave his own country and reside in another country and each person has a right to a nationality. Rights vested on the emigrants irrespective of their origin. The right vest upon them is the right to freedom from inhumane treatment. The international human rights law states that no person shall be subjected to inhuman treatment. Human rights watch1 stated that In Saudi Arabia holding thousands of migrant workers from Ethiopia video footage was released of torture and unlawful killings. Emigrants have the right to freedom of opinion and expression which means that everyone has the right to opinion irrespective of their sex, religion, nationality. This right prohibits any form of discrimination based on a political or jurisdictional basis or any international status of the country. The right to freedom from discrimination is another form of a right vested upon the emigrants. Article 7 of International Human Rights Law states that all are equal before the law and entitled without any discrimination. This means that all individuals should be treated equally. Discrimination is not based on opportunities but discrimination is based on basic necessities like water, shelter, food etc…Right to asylum is another right vested upon all people and they have the right to seek asylum in any country. Right to family is another right vested upon the emigrants that family is the most fundamental basic social institution and every person has the right to marry and start a family. Every human being has a right to favourable social protection. These are the rights of the emigrants and these rights should be enforced by the state in order to protect these rights.  


The state must give the emigrants the right to work. It is a socio-economic right and the state must give sufficient opportunities so that the individual can earn a decent living for their survival. It is the duty of the state to provide opportunities for emigrants to work and while doing so they can also mingle with the local community. It is the duty of the state to provide them with education. Education is the basic right of every human being. Only by education, the person can realise his other rights. Providing education can protect children from illiteracy, abuse, exploitation and many other acts. The emigrants have also the right to access the basic necessities for ensuring the welfare of the people. The right may extend to the accessibility of the courts in case of any inhumane treatment or if the emigrant is unable to access the basic facilities due to poverty, discrimination etc… It is the duty of the state to treat all people, whether a citizen or a non-citizen. Every individual has the right to have a dignified life and this must be satisfied by the state. 

In India despite several drawbacks of lack of statutory framework or national policy the basic rights are protected for every citizen and non-citizen in the constitution. The protection of life and liberty is vested in Article 21 which ensures the protection of all people and all persons are granted the right to free trial in the case their rights are being violated. The Emigration Act 1983 provides a framework for emigration workers for contractual overseas employment and seeks to safeguard their interests to ensure their welfare.  In the case of State vs Anil Grover2 case, it was stated that the emigration act was enacted for the purpose that no citizen can leave the country without obtaining a certificate of emigration clearance and no person can function as a recruiting agent without a valid certificate.

Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1976 states that all states must treat the people in their territory with respect and dignity. It is the obligation of the state not to treat individuals in inhuman conditions and the state must also take measures to prevent inhumane treatment. Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1976 prohibits torture and cruel and inhuman treatment. Agencies must also monitor the activities of the state and ensure that the state has given fair and just treatment not discriminating against the individuals who are emigrants. The U.N. International Organisation for Migration (UNIOM) was set up in the year 1951. It works for the humane treatment of migrants in every country. Non-governmental bodies, inter-governmental and total of 173 members of government aim at ensuring the freedom of movement and developmental migration. 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is a non-governmental organisation that works for the research and protection of human rights. This organisation is mainly to prevent abusive and inhuman behaviour towards migrant workers. Amnesty International (AI) is another non-governmental organisation that works to enforce the rights which are mentioned in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. It promotes tranquillity work toward the disarmament of abusive campaigns and maintains hostility. 


Right to movement is the fundamental right of every individual. No one can restrict the movement of individuals to another place for better work or employment opportunities. Over 1% of the world’s population is displaced every day. It is very essential to provide these people with good care and to protect them from inhumane treatment. There must be good corporation between international bodies and other agencies. Due to the outbreak of the pandemic suddenly there was a huge drift in migration. Many people relied upon humanitarian relief for their survival. During the outbreak of COVID, many emigrants had very harsh living conditions and they were restricted even the basic human needs medicine, shelter and food. The state must protect the rights of these individuals too. The international organisation may work to bring relief upon the protection of the people but it is up to the states to protect the people.


  2. CRL.M.C. 2087/2010

This article is written by Sree Lekshmi B J, third year law student of Sastra University, Thanjavur.

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