Safeguard the rights of migrant workers

ON International Migrants Day, Dec 18, the Malaysian Bar acknowledges the contribution of all migrant workers to the development of Malaysia and their home countries.

Malaysia hosts more than two million documented migrant workers, and there are an estimated five million undocumented migrant workers in Malaysia. Undocu-mented migrant workers are very vulnerable and face numerous perils and challenges.

Therefore, the Malaysian Bar calls on the government to embark on a comprehensive programme to resolve the issue of undocumented migrant workers in Malaysia. The programme should include an amnesty and regularisation programme to enable undocumented migrants to be regularised. The continued inaction in resolving this issue compromises the human rights of this large group of people on our shores.

The Malaysian Bar notes that the Independent Committee on the Management of Foreign Workers has submitted its report to the government. We urge the government to make the report public and implement the committee’s recommendations without delay.

The Malaysian Bar supports the recommendation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission that the management of migrant workers be placed under the purview of the Human Resources Ministry. Work, not security, should be the cornerstone of the nation’s comprehensive policy on migrant workers.

The Malaysian Bar commends the government’s move in participating in the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration on Dec 10 and 11,2018. The government should implement the provisions of this compact to ensure that the rights of migrant workers in Malaysia are protected.

Finally, the Malaysian Bar renews its calls to the government to do the following:

1) Implement the recommendations of the Bar Council’s “Developing a Comprehensive Policy Framework for Migrant Labour”, which include, among

others, working closely with country-of-origin governments to

fine-tune the recruitment system to ensure that migrant workers are recruited legally and are equipped with the necessary skills for their employment as well as knowledge of their labour rights. Also, the government’s legal aid programmes, including the Legal Aid Department and National Legal Aid Foundation, should be extended to migrants and refugees in Malaysia.

2) Ensure full respect for the human rights and humane treatment of migrants regardless of their migration status, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN General Assembly on Sept 25,2015.

3) Accede to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, adopted by the UN General Assembly on Dec 18,1990. This convention recognises and guarantees respect for the dignity and rights of all migrants, regardless of their national origin or immigration status.

ABDUL FAREED ABDUL GAFOOR , President, Malaysian Bar

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