The Mytilini Declaration was conceived and agreed in the English language. Other versions are already available on the Last Rights website in Greek, French and Italian. German, Spanish, Turkish and Arabic version are underway and, it is intended, will follow shortly. Where any difference may arise, the original, English language version prevails. Please let us know of any other translations that would be helpful. Read any of the current versions here.
Anyone or any organisation supporting the Declaration may endorse it here.
The Protocol: Guidance, Explanatory Note and Glossary
Work has continued to further develop the Guidance that will include standards to assist families and all those working with them and for the missing and the dead, together with an Explanatory Note and a Glossary that will set out clearly the definitions that have been used in the course of our work. The Guidance will include special reference to sexual identity and gender and to children. All those who signed the Declaration also committed to do more work in relation to the next steps and they will be invited to contribute further as soon as the revised versions of the Guidance, Explanatory Note and Glossary are available. We plan to launch the final versions on 11 May 2019, the first anniversary of the signing of the Mytilini Declaration and will keep readers informed as to progress and as to forthcoming events.
Profiles of the Missing - The Journey to Europe: Missing Migrants and the Rights of Survivors.
On 11 June 2018 Catriona Jarvis attended a conference in Rome at the invitation of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Swiss Ambassador to Italy: “Profiles of the Missing - The Journey to Europe: Missing Migrants and the Rights of Survivors.” Attendees were privileged to hear at first hand from some survivors of traumatic journeys and from some family members. One speaker was a man who had lost a son and a nephew, both very young, during a crossing from Turkey to Greece, whom Catriona had worked with on Lesbos in 2015. He still continues to seek answers and the need for national, regional and international mechanisms and better practice, as called for by Last Rights was highlighted. ICMP has begun work on assisting four governments (Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Malta) in the creation of a joint operational mechanism to investigate the fate of persons who went missing on migratory routes and to clarify the circumstances of their disappearance. ICMP will provide a secretariat and other operational assistance. Last Rights is keeping in touch with ICMP regarding progress.
Border deaths and migration policies: state and non-state approaches
On 14 and 15 June 2018, an international conference was convened by Thomas Spijkerboer and Paolo Cuttitta at Vrije University Amsterdam, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration, Medecins Sans Frontieres and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions on the topic of ‘Border deaths and migration policies: state and non-state approaches’. Last Rights was represented by Syd Bolton and Catriona Jarvis, where The Mytilini Declaration was presented. It is planned that further collaboration will result from this most interesting and successful event.
European Conference on EU Migration Policy and its implications for borders
On 6 and 7 October 2018, on Lesbos, the European Conference on EU Migration Policy and its implications for borders took place. It was attended by participants from numerous European countries. Developments in EU law regarding migrants, migration and refugee law and government responses were examined. Last Rights presented its work through Catriona Jarvis and Syd Bolton in the section on ‘The Dignity of the Dead or Drowned Body’. A working group has been formed.
Greek Deputy Ombudswoman for Children, Theoni Koufonikolakou
While on Lesbos, Catriona Jarvis and Syd Bolton were able to attend a brief meeting with the Greek Deputy Ombudswoman for Children, Theoni Koufonikolakou which revealed many issues of common concern and it is intended that we meet again in the near future to discuss and agree on steps that can be usefully taken.
Fatal Journeys Volume IV
October 10 and 11 2018, Catriona Jarvis and Syd Bolton participated in the meeting of authors for Fatal Journeys Volume IV, held by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, also sponsored by UKaid, in Florence. This volume, to be published in January 2019, will focus on children and will contain a contribution from Last Rights as well as The Mytilini Declaration.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (‘ICRC’): The Missing Persons Project
The International Committee of the Red Cross (‘ICRC’): The Missing Persons Project. The ICRC has commenced work on creating a series of standards building on the community of practice, relevant to current existing standards. Last Rights is in discussion with the ICRC to agree how best we might contribute to the work of this important new project that will take place between 2018 and 2022.
International Maritime Human Rights Conference hosted by Human Rights at Sea
On 29 October 2018 Catriona Jarvis attended the International Maritime Human Rights Conference hosted by Human Rights at Sea, at Fishmongers Hall in London. It was a most interesting and eye-opening day. Seafarers are still operating in some of the most difficult working conditions and some go missing and die at sea. The position of commercial vessels in relation to search and rescue duties is a vexed one. As this newsletter was being prepared, a cargo ship remained off the Libyan port of Misrata, with a number of rescued migrants on board who had declined to be returned to Libya where many if not all had already been in unlawful detention and subjected to serious harm. Some declared their readiness to die rather than be returned to Libya. As of now, it is understood that the migrants have been disembarked and detained in Libya, where some have been accused of a criminal offence of ‘piracy.’ We follow the developments with concern. Last Rights will create continuing links with Human Rights at Sea. A film was shown in the evening of 29 October called ‘Lifeboat’. The director, Skye Fitzgerald of Spinfilm, was present and we hope to be able to invite him to show the film, which is shocking but necessary viewing, at a forthcoming Last Rights event.
Last Rights continues to play its part as an investor in peace.
Objective 8 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
Last Rights has written a Commentary on Objective 8 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, due to be adopted at an Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 10 and 11 December 2018. Consensus is required or a two-thirds majority. If it passes, the UN General Assembly will seek formal endorsement by way of a Resolution. It will be a non-legally binding cooperative framework on migration. At first, the missing and the dead were absent, but now, Objective 8 does refer to them: Save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants.
In summary, Objective 8 contains three new elements: to save lives and prevent deaths and injury; to identify the missing and the dead and to provide assistance to their families.
It is worth stating at the outset, that through Objective 8 of this Compact, states have, for the first time, formally recognized that in embarking upon migration journeys, people’s lives are put in jeopardy every day and many go missing, die or are bereaved as a consequence. The Last Rights Project welcomes this ground-breaking development. The Commentary has been published, along with others dealing with the various Objectives, on a blog by the Refugee Legal Initiative which can be read here.
A variety of other initiatives is underway including contributions to a number of books due to be published in the near future, plus other projects. Updates will follow in due course. At the same time, we are giving thought to the future, to our structure, to our form, to our country of registration, not least because of the extraordinary political changes that are underway in the UK, and as to the possibility of developing an entity that could exist in the longer term for the benefit of families of the missing and the dead and those who work with them.
In a forest in northern France
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Thank you: Catriona Jarvis & Syd Bolton, Last Rights Co-Conveners