Thanks Bangladesh for hosting Rohingya refugees
Felipe González Morales. Photo courtesy: UNB“>
Felipe González Morales. Photo courtesy: UNB
The lack of investigation and prosecution for the vast majority of human rights abuses of the migrant workers in the destination countries is very concerning, said UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales.
“Destination countries — most of them in the Middle East — must also take an active role in investigating and sanctioning perpetrators of human rights violations against Bangladeshi migrant workers,” he said during a press conference at a city hotel today following a 10-day visit to Bangladesh.
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He held meetings with the government officials, civil society groups, Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar to understand the Bangladeshi migrants’ rights situation.
It bears importance as some 12 million Bangladeshi migrants work abroad and are a major source of foreign currency.
Morales said bilateral agreements exist between governments concerned, but these have not stemmed the number of reported cases of abuses abroad, particularly in Middle East countries.
“I have received reports of Bangladeshi workers being beaten, tortured, made to work excessive hours without pay or food amounting to contemporary forms of slavery,” the UN expert said.
The fraudulent practice of visa trading leaves the migrants often with very little or no pay.
“The kafala system where the visas of migrant workers are connected to their employers at the country of destination significantly reduces the migrants’ ability to negotiate and bargain. Their dependence on their employers puts serious obstacles for migrants to seek justice, which leads to employers acting with impunity.”
Those countries should collaborate with Bangladesh and effectively address these abuses in a coordinated manner. Bangladesh also needs to strengthen consular services for effective support to Bangladeshi workers.
He said Bangladesh is a signatory to a number of international conventions and adopted series of laws, they are yet to be effectively implemented.
Felipe González Morales said he is concerned that there is no proper regulatory framework yet to oversee the use and recruitment of unregistered brokers, as many of them impose exorbitant costs as high as $3,000 for a migrant.
“Once they arrive at their country of destination, most of the money they try and earn often has to be used to service these loans resulting in migrant workers being left with little to support themselves and their families.”
Morales said he received information that many often travel with a regular status and later end up in an irregular situation for example, by overstaying their visas abroad. Others take more perilous routes through land and sea.
“This has made irregular migrants more susceptible to criminal networks of trafficking or to being stranded or deported.”
He stressed on stepping up efforts to strengthen regulation of the migrant recruitment system.
González Morales praised Bangladesh for sheltering the Rohingyas, but expressed concern about the lack of legal status for Rohingyas, and noted that children who are born in the camps are not issued an official birth certificate.
He called on the authorities to facilitate permits to improve access to education through learning centers and life skills training.