Researchers, academics and migrant rights activists on Wednesday called for improving current justice system for migrant workers who were facing abuse and exploitation in the migration cycle.
Speaking at a consultation they said that the government should take steps to make the labour migration safe and free from hassles from the brokers.
They made the call at a ‘national consultation on access to justice for Bangladeshi migrant workers: Improving the Arbitration System,’ organised by Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP) at a posh hotel.
On their return from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, abused female migrant workers often felt scared to file complaints fearing social stigma, while others face threats from the manpower brokers.
OKUP chairman Shakirul Islam led a research on ‘Access to justice for Bangladeshi migrant workers: improving the arbitrary system.’ The study was conducted on 110 female domestic workers who returned from the Middle Eastern countries between January and December last year.
Shakirul said that most of the returned women and girl migrants who survived exploitation and abuse both at pre-departure and post arrival stages sought justice for compensation through arbitration at the BMET or the civil courts.
Chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Expatriates Welfare and overseas employment ministry Anisul Islam Mahmud who spoke as chief guest said that manpower sub agents should be registered under the recruitment agencies to make them responsible.
He said that recruitment of workers was not possible without sub agents. ‘So they will be brought under legal coverage.’
He said that there were many migrant workers facing problems after going abroad under so called free visas which must be restricted.
He emphasized on enhancing budgetary allocations to strengthen capacity of the Bangladesh missions abroad to expedite the services to the country’s migrant workers.
He said that inflow of remittances sent by migrant workers contributed to the country’s economic, political and social stability.
Speaking as special guest, former chairman of national human rights commission Mizanur Rahman urged the international communities to put pressure on the labour recipient countries to sign and ratify the UN conventions put in place in 1990.
‘Those International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is a United Nations multilateral treaty governing the protection of migrant workers and families, he said.
OKUP executive director Omar Faruque Chowdhury, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development’s Bangladesh programme officer Richard Slaman, WARBE Development Foundation Syed Saiful Haque, BRAC Migration Programme head Shariful Hasan, migration expert Asif Muneir, BNSK executive director Sumaiya Islam, senior EWOE ministry and BMET officials, returnee migrants spoke at the consultation.