Suhakam to govt: Protect the rights of migrant workers

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has called on the government to promote and protect the rights of migrant workers, to be in line with international human rights standards.

The vulnerability of migrant workers, especially undocumented migrants, in Malaysia has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, it said in a statement issued in conjunction with International Migrants Day on Dec 18.

“Many migrants have lost their jobs and income, and in turn faced challenges in accessing healthcare, food and other necessities.

“The migrant workers did not have access to government assistance and food aid and these were only provided to them by Malaysian citizens, ” it said.

The commission also pointed out that crowded living conditions put migrant workers at a higher risk of Covid-19 infection.

It said migrant workers typically live in kongsi houses and in some cases, there were 40 to 80 occupants to a house.

“While the government has provided free health screening for migrant workers, most undocumented migrants are still reluctant to come forward for medical treatment due to the ingrained fear of being arrested by the authorities," the commission said.

Suhakam said it has recently adopted its 2021-2025 Strategic Plan where one of its objectives is to advance the economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) of vulnerable groups in Malaysia, including migrant workers.

"Under the strategic plan, we will under take a few activities including the review of relevant laws, and research and promotional activities to increase public awareness on ESCR issues affecting vulnerable groups in the country," it said.

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