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

MFA Calls for an Immediate End to the Crackdown Against Undocumented Migrant Workers in Korea

Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) denounces the continued crackdown on undocumented workers by the South Korean Government. We firmly believe that human rights of all migrant workers should be upheld irregardless of their status. The recent crackdown against migrant workers has led to the violations of human rights and resulted to the death of Mr. Nur Fuad, a 30 year old Indonesian migrant worker who fell from his dormitory building as he tried to escape immigration authorities. He was a factory worker who lived with his wife in Korea.

Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) is by far the broadest and most representative membership-based network of Asian Migrant Organizations and support groups in the region. Established in 1994, MFA currently has 260 official members from 13 Asian countries with its secretariat based in the Philippines.

This unfortunate incident prompted our partners in Korea, the Joint Committee for Migrant Workers in Korea (JCMK), to stage a sit-in strike to protest the crackdown and condemn the death of Mr. Fuad. MFA fully supports this action and vows to monitor the case.

The repression against migrant workers by the South Korean authorities is not new.
The government has victimized countless migrant workers and migrant rights advocates. Many migrant workers were labeled as “terrorists” and forcibly deported. A big number of them were hunted down by the immigration police either in their homes or in the factories.

In many instances, forced deportation resulted to serious injuries and sometimes even death and suicides among the migrant workers. In 2003, greatly distressed by the forced deportation, seven migrant workers committed suicide while many others quit their jobs and went into hiding in rural areas where the roundup efforts of the government were expected to be less effective. Last year, 180,000 undocumented workers were deported as a result of the crackdown.

Fuelling the campaign against migrant workers is the implementation of the Employment Permit System (EPS). The EPS was implemented without abolishing the Industrial Trainee System(ITS) which only adds to the marginalization of migrant workers.

Like all workers in South Korea, MFA believes that migrant workers should be treated with dignity and respect. Migrant workers should be guaranteed the same fundamental labor rights that are enjoyed by native workers.

Korea is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and under articles 2 and 7 of the UDHR it states:

  • Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all rights and freedom set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
  • Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against discrimination in violation.

Furthermore Korea has announced its candidacy as a member of the newly established Human Rights Council which will hold its assembly in May 9, 2006. In its nomination Korea stated that:

“The Government of the Republic of Korea places great importance on human rights as universally shared value steadfastly advocated by the United Nations for six decades. The promotion and protection of human rights is a priority in the Republic of Korea’s national as well as foreign policy goals.”

On the basis of the above we strongly urge the Korean Government to abandon its policy of crackdowns and deportation and replace it with the legalization of all undocumented migrant workers.

We stand in solidarity with JCMK in stating our demands:

  • That the South Korean government legalize all undocumented migrant workers and grant them the same recognition it does Korean residents abroad!
  • That the government ratify the UN Migrant Convention and guarantee them overall human rights!
  • That the government immediately abandon the murderous policy of crackdowns and deportation for undocumented migrant workers!
  • That the government legalize all undocumented migrant workers and guarantee their right to work!
  • That the government draw up a labour migration framework based on ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration

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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