Rights of Non-Citizens: You have the right to remain silent!

Rights of Non-Citizens: You have the right to remain silent!


Imagine living in a world where selfishness and greed were only hypothetical thoughts, while conversations consisting of proactive and understanding discussions, genuine smiles flooding the scenery, to equality being established that benefits all people was the reality.

It might sound like a dystopian society since we’ve been accustomed to good and evil is the norm, but such a scene isn’t exactly impossible.

Human Rights of Non-Citizens


The year of 2020 has brought upon individuals a tremendous amount of turmoil and unexpected situations, but despite the suffering and confusion it has entailed, people have gathered to to now use the time to raise their voices in helping this world hea; not only in a physical manner, but intrinsically as well.

One such example is human rights involving non-citizens, which according to the United Nations, are “any individual who is not a national of a State in which he or she is present.” But before getting into any possible debate over opinions that are carried by one’s possible experience, it’s important to first understand the reason.

There are a plethora of reasons involving what causes individuals to migrate and settle into countries not of their own origin. Some individuals enter into a country due to a fascination regarding the nuance and attractions of that respective place, thoughts of regarding a possibility to have a better life financially or mentally, to even extreme cases where having to flee for the sake of saving one’s life or their loved ones is the last resort that’s much needed.

In one report according to the IOM UN Migration, Ms. Yusuf, a 19 year old Somali woman, left her hometown Somaliland in 2017 when her father passed away because she “could not find anyone that could provide the same support” hence pushing her to leave.

There’s an overall purpose to why things need to be done so it’s all in all important to understand an individual’s background and reasoning for doing the things they ought to do.

In understanding this, people have recognized the fact non-citizens can enter into their country hence leading them to create laws to address the situation to protect citizens while respecting non-citizens at the same time as seen through the United Nations as one example.

Examples regarding the initiative done to protect this basic human right can be seen through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976), Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (1960), International Convention on the Protections of all Migrant Workers and their Families (1990), to even Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air (2001) are just few of so many more.

This notion of protecting non-citizens further extends internationally as Europe has an Amsterdam Treaty Amending the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaties Establishing the European Communities (1999) as well as the Common European Asylum System, the United States having the American Convention on Human Rights (1992) Bernal vs. Fainter trial  (1984) and the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment of their Constitution, to even Arab states having the Council of the League of Arab States, Arab Charter on Human Rights (1997).

The overall intention of these treaties or gatherings was to place a standard as to how non-citizens have basic fundamental rights including things such as not needing to be coerced to change one’s nationality, having freedom of expression, being able to receive protection from tyranny, injustices, and discrimination, not being kicked out without having a fair trial, to governments even being forbidden to discriminate against non-citizens as well. Although the purpose has its good intentions, the flaw with this is the fact people don’t fully carry it out or are moderated appropriately.

Violence and Xenophobia

Violence towards non-citizens continues to increase as hate and movements towards xenophobia, which is a dislike of prejudice against people from other countries, has continued to occur. Non-citizens have been kidnapped, overpowered by individuals who have the authority so that they won’t speak up, told to go back to where they came from, divided families to no longer be able to see one another, to have detained migrants in inhumane conditions.

“The place they held us was really cold. They only gave us a paper blanket. That’s all we had to keep us warm. We were sitting on the cement floor, completely freezing. In the end, I had to sleep seated upright, with my son in my lap, because I couldn’t let him lay down on the cement floor. He would have been much too cold,” said Alejandra, a Salvadoran woman placed in a U.S Immagration holding cell.

Furthermore, in the previous example regarding how Ms. Yusuf fled Solamiland into Yemen, she reported how “it is very difficult to start a small business in Yemen as the nationals will tell you that they are unemployed, hence how can a foreigner make a business in their country. The security also got worse and resulted in explosions in Sana, Yemen. You live in fear…and for women it’s very difficult to get out as you risk your life.”

All in all, albeit a citizen or not, everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect given we’re all the same species. The concept of migrating into a city not of one’s own is oftentimes a difficult task to do given friends, family, nostalgic settings, and cultures need to be let go of, and furthermore, having to adapt to new cultures takes time as well. It is important to understand the circumstances for why a person does what they need to do, rather than being quick to let opinions flourish.

In having an empathetic heart or mindset to try to understand another’s perspective, human beings are the only ones who can help heal the people of this world. Knowing this, regardless of circumstance and upbringing, it is our duty to help one another so that no one is left behind, but that the rights of everyone is upheld and acknowledged.


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