UK: Press release: UK based Last Rights project will speak at 72nd Session of UN General Assembly side-event on unlawful death of refugees and migrants

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Press release: UK based Last Rights Project will speak at 72nd Session of UN General Assembly side-event on unlawful death of refugees and migrants
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At the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, on the 26th October, Dr. Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions will present her report, “Unlawful Death of Refugees and Migrants” to the General Assembly.

On Friday, the 27th of October, she will host an event at the UN to discuss the mass scale of casualties of migrants and refugees and the way forward based on the on the best practices identified and conclusions reached in the report.

Catriona Jarvis, Co-Convener of Last Rights ( will be speaking as part of a discussion panel hosted by the Special Rapporteur. The event on Friday, October 27th will be held from 10:00am to 12:00pm in Conference Room 8 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

It will also be live-streamed and shared with Last Rights social media and can be accessed here: UN Live Telecast

This panel event follows the release of a new report by the Special Rapporteur focused on migrant deaths. The report addresses killings by both State and non-State actors and denounces the “regime of impunity” that is continuously worsened by the lack of accurate data on the dead and the missing.

“The report presents evidence that suggests multiple failures on the part of States to respect and protect refugees’ and migrants’ right to life, such as unlawful killings, including through the excessive use of force and as a result of deterrence policies and practices which increase the risk of death. Other violations to the right to life result from policies of extraterritoriality amounting to aiding and assisting in the arbitrary deprivation of life, and from the failure to prevent preventable and foreseeable deaths, as well as the limited number of investigations into these unlawful deaths. The report also presents best practices in search and rescue operations and for the dignified treatment of the dead, but points out that States do not implement them as they should, and fail to resource them adequately.

Large numbers of refugees and migrants die or go missing every year at both land and sea borders. For the most part, the names of the missing and dead are unknown; their families have not been traced; and where bodies have been found, they are too often buried in unnamed graves. This represents one of the great untold tragedies of this catastrophe, one that triggers the responsibility of States to provide dignity and accountability in death.

The scale of casualties among refugees and migrants demands urgent attention at national, regional and international levels. The report presents recommendations for this purpose. The equal protection of all lives, regardless of migration status, is a central underpinning of the entire international human rights system: it must be upheld in the context of the movement of people and must form the foundation of all governmental and intergovernmental policies.”

The Last Rights Project is creating a new framework of guidance to ensure respect for the rights of missing and dead refugees and migrants and bereaved family members which will shortly be circulated for consultation and published following an expert working group meeting in May 2018

For further information see and for press enquiries, please contact Catriona Jarvis at: CatrionaJarvis [at]

Twitter @LastRights2017

Further reading

In Potters' Fields (pdf) by Catriona Jarvis: what happens to people who die in the Mediterranean?

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