Migration experts from South Asian countries Tuesday called upon the governments of the labour sending states in the region to unitedly adopt a common regional policy on recruitment mechanism for sending their workers abroad under the minimized or zero migration cost.
They stressed the need for taking up the best practices including ‘free visa and free tickets, enforced by the Nepali government recently for sending their workers to Malaysia and Gulf countries with objective to minimize and abolish recruitment cost of migrant workers.
The experts made their calls and observations while speaking at the sixth ministerial consultation on ‘South Asia Civil Society Consultation on Labour Migration,’ at a hotel in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.
Migrants Forum in Asia, American Solidarity Center, Helvetas Nepal and South Asian Regional Trade Union Council jointly organized the two-day regional consultation that began on Tuesday.
Returnee migrants, migrant rights activists, civil society members, trade union leaders and media folks from the South Asia and East Asian countries were attending the consultation ahead of the 5th senior officials meeting and the 6th ministerial consultation of Colombo Process scheduled to be held in Kathmandu on November 15-16.
The Colombo Process, a Regional Consultative Process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origins in Asia is a member state-driven, non-binding and informal forum to facilitate dialogue and cooperation on issues of common interest and concern relating to labour mobility.
The Colombo Process has 12 member states and eight observer countries. The member states of Colombo Process are Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
Established in 2003, the labour sending countries increasingly recognized the need for optimizing the benefits of organized labour migration whilst protecting their migrants from exploitative practices in recruitment and employment.
On the first day, the migrant rights campaigners and civil society members presented their country reports on the three thematic areas of ‘fair and ethical recruitment, consular support for migrants in crisis and access to Justice, support services and welfare protection.
Shakirul Islam from Bangladesh, Sabir Farhat from Pakistan, Miyuru Gunasinghe from Sri Lanka, Dev Chandra Rai from Nepal and Rejimon Kuttapan from India presented brief reports on behalf of their countries. The Sri Lankan paper was on ‘Skills and Qualification Recognition’, Bangladesh’s on ‘Fostering Ethical Recruitment’, while Pakistan’s was on ‘Remittances’.
Shom Luitel from People Forum and Mahendra Sharma from HMS in Nepal also spoke at the opening session of the consultation and raised issues relevant to the current trend of labour migration in the region.
In his report, Shakirul Islam stressed on Bangladesh government’s stake to ensure safe migration and the rights of migrant workers on both regional and international level. He spoke for Bangladesh’s active role in different regional consultative processes including Colombo Process, Abu Dhabi Dialogue, Bali Process etc.
‘It is significant that during the 18th SAARC summit in 2014, the member states affirmed and agreed to collaborate and cooperate on safe, orderly and responsible management of labour migration from South Asia to ensure safety, security and wellbeing of the migrant workers in destination countries outside the region,’ he said.
Sumitha Krishna from Migration Working Group in Malaysia moderated various sessions at the conference on the first day.
Country programme director at Solidarity Center in Sri Lanka Alonzo Glenn Suson and deputy country programme director of Solidarity Center in Bangladesh Kelly M Fay Rodríguez also took part in the discussion.
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