A number of promising practices are emerging in South and South-West Asia, ensuring greater promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants. But gaps remain for migrants in regular as well as irregular situations.
At the national level, many out-migration countries have made efforts to regularize emigration procedures, resulting in more migrants enjoying a legal status. On a bilateral level, many bilateral agreements and understandings do not systematically address human rights issues, including issues related to economic, social and cultural rights. Although recruitment agencies have become subject to greater monitoring and pre-departure training schemes subject to some improvement, there are still gaps in this regard. Some countries of origin have begun to collect data on rights abuses. However, more systematic action needs to be undertaken.
On the subregional level, it is laudable that migrants’ rights have been put on the agenda of some regional consultation processes, and it is hoped that there will be concrete outcomes beyond declarations in the future. Civil society organizations should have greater access and opportunities to participate in deliberations on, and implementation of policies and programmes.
In view of the above, the following are non-exhaustive recommendations:
- All migrants, regardless of their legal status, should be able to enjoy their fundamental human rights in law and in practice.
- All countries in the subregion as well as countries of destination outside the subregion that host migrants from South and South-West Asia should be encouraged to ratify and effectively implement all core international human rights instruments, including the ICRMW. Impediments to the ratification of this important instrument must be addressed. Also necessary are capacity-building and -strengthening activities on the scope and content of international human rights standards that protect migrants, with Government officials, parliamentarians, national human rights institutions and civil society.
- Countries of origin as well as countries of destination should put in place concrete channels for remedies and redress, including ensuring greater protection of the law for all migrant workers. One important avenue in this respect is ensuring effective labour inspections to monitor abusive employer practices.
- National legislation as well as bilateral understandings and agreements on migration should be consistent with international human rights standards. Monitoring them and their enforcement mechanisms need to be strengthened. These instruments should also include provisions for the welfare and protection of workers.
- Destination countries should analyse temporary labour migration schemes to ensure that they are compatible with international human rights standards. Specifically, they should remove the requirements that migrants are unable to change employers, as there is a risk of human rights abuse in such arrangements.
- Domestic work should be defined as work in national labour law. All countries of destination should ratify relevant ILO conventions, including Convention Nº. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.