Asean Framework Instrument for migrant workers must be legally binding

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Asean needs to change its mindset and perceive civil society as a partner in all its processes, especially in the drafting of the association’s Framework Instrument on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers, said a regional human rights group, the Task Force on Asean Migrant Workers, during the Second Asean Forum on Migrant Labour, hosted by the Thailand Labour Ministry and the Asean secretariat in Bangkok.

 

The Task Force on Asean Migrant Workers said “We applaud this initiative and we hope that this kind of stakeholder dialogue can be sustained, expand its participation and be institutionalised within Asean. This process is very helpful in building trust and confidence to achieve the people-centred Asean.”

Sinapan Samydorai, the convener of the Task Force (TF-AMW) added that “millions of migrant workers are seeking a better future for themselves and their families by working abroad in Asean, and as economic integration intensifies leading to the full economic integration of Asean by 2015, this number will grow.”  

“Moreover, the Instrument, an agreement by Asean member countries should be legally binding, in line with the new Asean Charter which has given the organisation a legal identity.”

The theme of the two-day forum is “Asean Declaration on Migrant Workers: Achieving its Commitments”. It aims to move forward to achieve the Asean Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.

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The forum, said to be Asean’s first broad-based consultation on labour migration issues also aims to build trust and confidence through social dialogue among the various stakeholders.  Its participants included civil society organisations, trade unions, employers associations, national human rights institutions, governments, international and regional organisations and the Asean secretariat. This event is a prelude to the Third Asean Forum on Migrant Labour planned for 2010 in Vietnam as the next chair of Asean.

In view of the current developments, Sinapan said, “A new and fair deal is urgently required for migrant workers in Asean by drafting and implementing the Asean Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.”

“We would be much appreciative if the Asean Committee on Migrant Workers [ACMW] members start to make reference in their deliberations to civil society’s proposal on the Asean Framework Instrument for the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers,” he added.

“However, we thank the Asean Secretariat for distributing copies to members of the ACMW at the SLOM. Three countries informed us they received it and used it in the negotiation. We also appreciate the Thai Ministry of Labour’s initiative to distribute copies of the proposal to all participants at the Second Asean Forum on Migrant Labour”, said Sinapan.

The platform of more than 60 organisations working on migrant workers issues in Asean also urges  Asean tol pay serious attention to recognise the migrant workers’ rights, fully protect the rights of all migrant workers – especially those who are in vulnerable employment, regularise their status, and lower the costs of legal migration.

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TF-AMW calls for Asean member countries to include all migrant workers and their families in the coverage of the Asean Framework Instruments. Furthermore, the task force calls for better monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the Asean Framework Instrument is effectively implemented.

31 July 2009


BACKGROUND

TF-AMW had submitted the proposal to the ACMW members and Asean Secretariat in May 2009 during the Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM).

The civil society’s proposal to the Asean framework instruments comprehensively listed 192 recommendations covering the: 1) Obligations of receiving states; 2) Obligations of sending states; 3) Joint obligations of receiving and sending states; and 4) Commitments by Asean. This extensive document is a result of the eight national consultations and seven regional consultations from 2007 to 2009 involving more than 1,000 civil society participants in eight member countries of Asean.

The civil society Asean framework instrument proposal emphasises the need for a) an agreement to protect migrant workers rights and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect, and b) harmonisation of national laws to correspond to ILO core labour standards, fundamental freedoms and rights at work.

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