Migrant Forum in Asia
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Email: mfa@mfasia.org | Website: www.mfasia.org

International Migrants Day Statement: 18 December 2014

On 18 December 2014, Migrant Forum in Asia joins migrant communities, migrants’ rights advocates, and human rights defenders around the world in celebrating International Migrants Day. We honour migrant workers worldwide who take considerable risks crossing borders, make many personal sacrifices in pursuit of a better future, and who must fight for basic recognition of their rights. We stand together in this struggle.

Marking 25 Years of the Migrants’ Rights Convention

Today we launch a new year-long campaign, Step It Up: Dignity, Rights, Development, leading up to the 25th Anniversary of the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Family (1990). This Convention reiterates state obligations under international law and specifies the rights that migrant workers and their families can expect governments to uphold. Since its adoption in 1990 and entry into force in 2003, only 47 countries have ratified this convention—an appallingly low ratification rate, particularly given that the Convention reiterates rights that are already enshrined in core international human rights Conventions.

Reform Migrant Labour Recruitment Regimes

Migrant labour recruitment regimes in Asia and globally continue to undermine the human and labour rights of migrant workers. Complex relationships among employment agencies in destination countries, recruitment agencies in countries of origin, and the vast number of independent sub-agents create multiple sites of exploitation. The imposition of authorized and unauthorized recruitment fees, the lack of transparency in recruitment systems, restrictive visa regimes, unethical practices among recruiters and employers, collusion with government officials, and the lack of information available to migrant workers results in rights violations throughout the recruitment process. In response, civil society has mounted a global campaign for Recruitment Reform, through which we support and encourage the emergence of ethical recruitment initiatives, call for the abolishing all recruitment fees and costs, and advocate for government action to curtail contract substitution.

End Forced Labour

Even as we recognize International Migrants’ Day, we stand in solidarity with the 21 million men, women, and children, including migrant workers, who are currently in situations of forced labour. Trafficked, held in debt bondage, and working in slave-like conditions, the victims of forced labour are often invisible and unreachable. In June 2014, the International Labour Organization adopted a Protocol and a Recommendation to supplement the Forced Labour Convention (C29) to guide states in eliminating forced labour.

Respect & Protect the Rights of Domestic Workers

The adoption of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention (C189) in 2011 was a milestone for the protection of migrant women worldwide. This Convention recognizes domestic workers as workers, with rights equal to those of all other workers regardless of citizenship or legal status.This victory was the result of six decades of perseverance on the part of leaders from the domestic worker community, trade unionists, and civil society advocates. Despite themomentum generated during the 2010 and 2011 International Labour Conference, female and male domestic workers continue to experience rights violations in the migration process. At only 16 ratifications, the ratification rate does not reflect the progressive and positive thinking reflected in the comments, statements, and debate among member states at the ILC.

In celebration of International Migrants Day and in recognition of the urgent need for action to support migrants’ rights,

  • We call on all governments to “step it up” and demonstrate their commitment to guaranteeing the rights of all migrant workers and members of their family by ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers & Members of their Families. We invite all stakeholders to join the Step It Up campaign — www.cmw25.org.
  • We call on governments to take urgent action to end the systemic abuses in migrant labour recruitment systems by abolishing all recruitment fees and costs and creating strong mechanisms to eliminate contract substitution. We invite all stakeholders to join the Open Working Group on Labour Migration & Recruitment — www.RecruitmentReform.org
  • We call on governments to demonstrate their commitment to eradicating forced labour in all its forms by ratifying the Protocol on Forced Labour, supporting its swift entry into force.
  • We call on governments to guarantee the rights of domestic workers by ratifying the Domestic Workers Convention (ILO C189) and immediately incorporating its provisions into national law and policy.

For more information, contact:

William Gois : +63 920 960 0916
Rex Varona: +63 936 952 5051
Tatcee Macabuag: +63 917 526 7171
Agnes Matienzo: +63 998 530 1556

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About Us

MFA is a regional network of non-government organizations (NGOs), associations and trade unions of migrant workers, and individual advocates in Asia who are committed to protect and promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers.

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.

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