18 December 2013
Today, on International Migrants Day, Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) commemorates the contributions made by millions of migrants all over the world and calls on the global community to respect the human rights and dignity of migrant workers and members of their families!
Currently, the number of international migrants reached an all-time record number of 232 million, a notable increase from 175 million in 2000. In a growing globalized climate, migrant workers are playing a bigger role in building national infrastructures and fueling the engines of economies in countries of destination, as well as back home. However, we must not neglect the inherent risks undertaken by citizens in their journeys for “greener pastures”. While today should be a celebratory occasion on the achievements of and for migrants, MFA also acknowledges the hardships faced by migrants in 2013.
2013 Year in Review for Migrants
In September 2013, the Malaysian government launched a special operation to deport an estimated 500,000 undocumented migrants, a majority coming from the South and Southeast Asian corners of the globe such as Indonesia, Burma, Bangladesh, Philippines and Nepal. Another immigration “crackdown” went into effect at the end of an amnesty period in November, resulting in the arrests, detention, and deportation of millions of Bangladeshis, Indians, Filipinos, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Indonesians from Saudi Arabia. MFA echoes the calls of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants and claims that detention should never be an automatic response or solution to the “problem” of undocumented workers. MFA calls upon states to move away from the crime prevention framework and to respect and ensure the human rights of undocumented migrants as stipulated in the UN International Bill of Human Rights.
We express deep concerns about the arrests of two dozen Indian migrant workers in connection with a riot, protesting the death of a compatriot in Singapore. We are hoping that there will be a fair trial so authorities look into the living and working conditions that fueled the violent protests. At the same time, MFA joins its voices with the international petition that calls for the rejection of a possible death sentence for domestic worker, Wilfrida Soik who is accused of murdering her employer in Malaysia.
Moreover, the recognition of various events exposing the plight of migrants around the world calls for its critical attention and intervention. Within the labour migration and development nexus, migrant workers are fighting for their labour and human rights. Despite a year of serious challenges, MFA has seen a way forward in the protection and promotion of migrant workers’ rights through the collaboration of multiple stakeholders.
MFA marks the 2nd UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development (UN-HLD) as a step towards civil society’s engagement on the issues of migration and migrant workers’ rights in an intergovernmental setting. Keeping in line with this year’s civil society’s theme, “People, Power & Communities: Building Bridges for Migrant, Labour & Human Rights,” MFA encourages civil society actors to continue the movement building space in international processes like the UN-HLD and GFMD. We must continue to wrestle forward to create a climate of change for migrant workers through our engagement with governments.
Moving towards multilateralism
MFA calls a greater commitment upon states to create an environment that is inclusive of migrant workers by adhering to international labour and human rights standards. Thus, we urge states to ratify and implement ILO’s eight fundamental conventions, along with conventions immediately related to migrant workers: C97 Migration for Employment (Revised), C143 Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions), and C189 Domestic Workers Convention.
We must pay particular attention to C189 as domestic workers remain largely in an “invisible” sector of work and are dominated by women migrants. While MFA acknowledges the 10 ratifications of C189, it is far from the global commitment needed for the formal recognition of domestic work as work, thus leaving millions of women migrant workers to go unnoticed.
Lastly, MFA pushes for states’ ratification and implementation of the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. It is only through the enforcement of this international treaty that the supreme protection and promotion of migrants’ rights may be realized. We dare to say that migrant workers will be better off if all states were parties to the convention. The ratification and implementation of key labour and human rights conventions demonstrates the accountability and transparency of states in the genuine upholding of migrant workers’ rights.
Human mobilization is an expression of freedom and the right to live decent lives with dignity. It is on this day, International Migrants Day, that we rejoice the will of migrant workers to seek opportunities beyond the borders of their home. It is on this day, International Migrants Day, which we come together to the table to shape the path that realizes a world that is possible for all and puts an end to the ‘globalization of indifference’.
Human rights and dignity for ALL migrant workers!
Migrant Forum in Asia
MFA members are organizing a number of activities across Asia to commemorate International Migrants’ Day. To see the list of activities of MFA members, visit: 2013 Migrants’ Campaign Month
MFA is a regional network of grassroots organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs), associations and trade unions of migrant workers, and individual advocates in Asia that are committed to protect and promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers and members of their families. It is guided by a vision of an alternative world system based on respect for human rights and dignity, social justice, and gender equity, particularly for migrant workers.