The newly appointed UN Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday announced that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) intends ''to send staff to Italy to assess the reported sharp increase in acts of violence and racism against migrants, persons of African descent and Roma''.
Bachelet made the announcement during her opening statement at a session of the UN Council for Human Rights, which runs through September 28. She also said that another team will also be sent to Austria for the same reason.
'Denying entry to NGO ships had devastating consequences'
In her address, Bachelet said that ''the government of Italy has been denying entry to NGO rescue ships. This kind of political posturing and other recent developments have devastating consequences for many already vulnerable people. Although the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean has fallen, the fatality rate for those making this treacherous crossing has in the first six months of this year been even higher than previously''.
Bachelet then urged the European Union to ''establish a dedicated humanitarian search and rescue operation for people crossing the Mediterranean, and to ensure that access to asylum and to human rights protection in the EU is guaranteed''.
Policies based on reality, not fear are necessary
Presenting the priorities of the office she heads, Bachelet spoke about overall concerns for the respect of fundamental rights worldwide, including migration flows and the situation in Italy. She said it is in every State's best interest to adopt migration policies based on reality, not fear, that offer the opportunity of safe and legal movement rather than forcing people to run deadly risks, Bachelet noted.