Meet the PROMIS* Champions

30-11-2020

Every week, we introduce you to one of the PROMIS project champions. People from all over West Africa who, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, have continued to defend the rights of migrants and victims of human trafficking throughout the global health pandemic.

*The PROMIS project is a joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that aims to strengthen the capacity of West African states to develop a human rights-based response to migrant smuggling and to respond effectively to human rights violations related to irregular migration. The initial implementation of the project focuses on Mali, Niger, Senegal, The Gambia, and Côte d'Ivoire, with a subsequent extension to other West African countries.

The champion of the week:

Commissioner within the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) in Niger, Mr. Brah Mamadou Ali chairs the working group that deals with migration issues, the fight against discrimination and slavery practices. He explains how, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CNDH ensures the continuity of its activities in order to protect the rights of migrants and shares some experiences of support and assistance to migrants from Niger.

Below is an excerpt from the interview conducted with OHCHR. To read the full interview (in french), click here

 

How did you become a commissioner at the CNDH and what is your function about ? 

The members of the Commission bear the title of Commissioner. It is in this capacity that I was elected by my fellow magistrates from a list of three candidates. I chair the Working Group which deals with migration issues, the fight against discrimination and slavery practices. I am also the West African representative on the Working Group of the African Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ANNHR) on migration.

The CNDH is in charge of the promotion and protection of human rghts in Niger - What does it do for the rights of migrants ?  

The National Human Rights Commission of Niger receives complaints from migrants, carries out investigations in case of violation of these rights, and makes notified or unannounced visits to reception, transit and detention centres for migrants throughout the national territory. At the same time as providing legal and judicial assistance to migrants in vulnerable situations, the Commission organises capacity building sessions for the various migration actors (Defence and Security Forces, Magistrates etc.) and awareness-raising sessions for the migrants themselves.

How does the PROMIS project fit into your activities ?

The PROMIS Project fits into our activities through the search for effective responses to human rights violations related to migration which is part of the mandate of the CNDH through the Working Group on Migration Issues. The "Brigade de Veille pour les Droits des Migrants" (BVDMN) led by the CNDH and the NGO GRASPI through the PROMIS Project, with the financial support of OHCHR/BRAO, has strengthened the Commission's mechanism on migration issues.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your activities and in particular the work related to migrants ? 

In the early hours of the pandemic, all activities related to the promotion and protection of human rights were blocked following the various restrictions imposed by the Government to fight against this scourge. In terms of migration, these measures had the following consequences:

- an increase in the migratory flow from Algeria to the transit and reception centres of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which, due to the closure of borders, could no longer transport migrants to their countries of origin;

- the quarantine of migrants at the Assamaka border post exposed migrants more than it protected them against the pandemic, as the reception capacity of the centre did not meet the needs;

- the measures limiting movements and especially those isolating the city of Niamey often, even to assist migrants (case of migrants arrested and sentenced in Arlit without having been legally and judicially assisted) have interrupted all our actions towards migrants.

 

For more information:

Discover the PROMIS* champions who are working for the protection and promotion of the human rights of migrants during COVID 19

The interview in full (in French) : Brah Mamadou Ali