The ASEAN Framework Instrument for migrant workers must be legally binding, said Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers
(Bangkok, 31 July 2009) 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 during the 2nd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor, hosted by the Thailand Labor Ministry and 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 to be institutionalized within ASEAN. This process is very helpful in building trust and confidence to achieve the people-centered 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 organization 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.
The forum, said to be ASEAN’s first broad-based consultation on labor migration issues, also aims to build trust and confidence through social dialogue among the various stakeholders. Its participants included civil society organizations, trade unions, employers associations, national human rights institutions, governments, international and regional organizations and the ASEAN secretariat. This event is a prelude to the 3rd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor 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 the 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 initiative to distribute copies of the proposal to all participants at the 2nd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour”, said Sinapan.
The platform of more than 60 organizations working on migrant workers issues in ASEAN also urges that ASEAN shall pay serious attention to recognize the migrant workers’ rights, fully protect the rights of all migrant workers – especially those who are in vulnerable employment, regularize their status, and lower the costs of legal migration.
TF-AMW calls for ASEAN member countries to include all migrant workers and their families in the coverage of the ASEAN Framework Instruments. Further more, the task force calls for better monitoring and evaluation system to ensure that the ASEAN Framework Instrument is effectively implemented.
TF-AMW has 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 has 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 8 national consultations and 7 regional consultations from 2007 to 2009 involving more than 1,000 civil society participants in 8 member countries of ASEAN.
The civil society ASEAN framework instrument proposal emphasizes on needs for a) an agreement to protect migrant workers rights and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect, and b) harmonization of national laws to correspond to ILO core labour standards, fundamental freedoms and rights at work.
The web-link to the civil society proposal to the ASEAN framework of instrument, please click here. http://www.workersconnection.org/downloads.php?RCID=7
The 2nd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor’s recommendation covers the scope and coverage of rights and timeline for the drafting committee to finalize the draft which will be put forward to the annual meeting of the ACMW which will be held in Thailand in the last week of September 2009.
The ASEAN Declaration on the protection and promotion of the rights of Migrant workers recognizes their sufferings and calls for: Article: 8. Promote fair and appropriate employment protection, payment of wages, and adequate access to decent working and living conditions for migrant workers; Article: 9. Provide migrant workers, who may be victims of discrimination, abuse, exploitation, violence, with adequate access to the legal and judicial system of the receiving states.