Safe Migration
The UN’s first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) got underway this week, a platform to assess how member states are progressing in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in what could be “a moment to renew our commitment to the rights of migrants.”

Writing in openDemocracy, the International Coordinator of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Bandana Pattanaik, interrogates the effectiveness of the IMRF, whether the forum will allow civil society to genuinely hold states accountable to commitments made in the GCM, or whether it will be “yet another exercise in showcasing rhetoric to hide an absence of action?”

Skepticism around the progress states are making with regards to protecting the human rights of migrants is not unfounded. There is a disturbing pattern globally—governments are using anti-trafficking rhetoric to justify harmful immigration policies. Right now, immigration legislation, such as the Nationality and Borders Bill in the UK, will harm trafficking survivors.

These restrictive laws make it both harder for trafficking victims to access support they are entitled to under international standards and risk increasing trafficking as options to move safely reduce. As a result of unethical immigration policies, it’s now easier than ever for traffickers to exploit people made vulnerable through the systematic denial of their rights.

A global UN survey found that many states had policies in place to curb irregular migration with little to no focus on protecting human rights.

The Global Coalition on Migration recently published a new report ‘Spotlight Report on Global Migration’ centering migrants’ perspectives and makes rights-based recommendations to states in the implementation of migration policies.

Pattanaik writes:
There is no data to support the notion that creating permanent regular pathways for migrants and regularising undocumented people will strain the economic or social systems of destination countries. On the contrary, such policies would go a long way in reducing livelihood insecurity, building just societies, and strengthening local economies. Destination states must let go of the false notion that migrants are a burden or threat to their countries once and for all.

The hostile nature of borders and immigration policies fails to acknowledge the humanity of migrants and undermines the rights afforded to all through virtue of being human. In the vacuum of these rights, modern slavery and human trafficking are allowed to flourish.

Not only are states ignoring international recommendations, they are co-opting anti-trafficking arguments to justify restrictive immigration policies that are harming migrants and trafficking survivors. This is unacceptable.
That’s why Freedom United launched a new campaign this week calling on all states to pass genuine anti-trafficking immigration policies.
Freedom United

Western Hypocrisy
European energy companies are finding workarounds to keep Russian crude flowing while placating public opinion, a media report said.

The point is to market a barrel in which only 49.99% comes from Russia; in Shell’s eyes, as long as the other 50.01 percent is sourced elsewhere, the oil cargo isn’t technically of Russian origin, the Bloomberg report said.

The manouvre underpins a burgeoning and opaque market for blended Russian diesel and other refined petroleum products, one of the many that oil companies and commodity traders are using to keep Russian energy flowing into Europe while at the same time satisfying public opinion that demands an end to subsidizing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine, Bloomberg reported.

As Europe has stopped short of applying any limits or penalties to the purchase of Russian oil, gas or coal, selling the novel blend is perfectly legal. If Shell and others followed European rules to the letter, they could buy cargoes of 100 per cent Russian origin.

But blending is a convenient tool for companies to publicly say one thing (phase out Russian molecules) and do another (buy lots of Russian molecules), the report said.

In the case of Shell, the company has amended the so-called general terms and conditions of its contracts to allow for Russian blending.

In the oil market, traders whisper about a “Latvian blend”—a new origin for diesel that looks like a workaround to supply Russian product mixed with something else. The typical trade goes from Primorsk, a Russian oil export town near St Petersburg, into Ventspils, a port in Latvia that has a large oil terminal and tanking capacity. That’s where the blending takes place.

There are many other locations where blending is happening, including in the Netherlands, and on the high seas, in what traders call ship-to-ship transfers. For many in the market, the Latvian blend is simply shorthand for any blend that contains Russian molecules, regardless of where the mixing took place, said the Bloomberg report.

The Latvian blend is a reminder of similar backdoors to trade in sanctioned Iranian and Venezuelan crude, which for years had been offered in the Far East as “Malaysian blend” or “Singapore blend”.

For Shell, the strategy is not risk free. The company was forced to issue a rare apology last month after its traders bought a single cargo of deeply discounted Russian Urals crude, triggering an outcry that included the Ukrainian foreign affairs minister accusing the company of profiting from Ukrainian blood.

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Vol 54, No. 49, Jun 5 - 11, 2022