Foreign missions can do more to protect migrant workers' rights, says Suhakam

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign missions to Malaysia should do better in protecting their countrymen's migrant worker rights here, says the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).

"The workers are often left to fend for themselves, to find their own lawyers, while battling bureaucracy and also to stay in the country to make claims against their employers," Suhakam commissioner Ragunath Kesavan said.

Speaking at the Conference on Access to Justice for Migrant Workers at a hotel here on Monday (Oct 3), he said there was a lack of understanding of migrant worker rights despite numerous laws and international treaties being signed.

ALSO READ: Look after migrant workforce well or many industries may grind to a halt, says Suhakam

"On the surface, various conventions have been ratified but it is not carried downwards where it matters most.

"For example, intergovernmental relations are not discussed in detail.

"Governments are more interested in trade, business and opening up industries but in terms of workers' rights, even their own citizens, there is not much support," he said.

Among the suggestions he made was implementing virtual courts for victims of wage theft, making it easier for them to get justice without requiring them to remain in the country.

ALSO READ: Suhakam to govt: Protect the rights of migrant workers

He also added that working relationships should be forged with Suhakam's overseas counterparts to speed up the process of raising concerns and complaints.

"We have an MOU with the Nepal human rights commission. It is in a position to advise thei government there as well.

"National human rights groups in (source) countries (for migrant workers) should have some arrangement with Malaysia as a host country... it would be extremely helpful," he said.

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