Dialogue on “Access to Justice for Migrants’ and their Families” at CIRDAP

Lawyers, rights campaigners and officials on Saturday stressed need for proper implementation of overseas employment and migration act and other relevant laws to protect the migrants and their families from abuses and harassment at home and abroad. Speaking at a dialogue, they said that migrant workers had little access to justice due to lack of awareness and implementation of the relevant laws as well as lack of bilateral agreements with the labour recipient countries. The thousands of middlemen who were involved in recruitment process harassed migrant workers, they said while speaking at a dialogue on ‘Access to justice for migrants and their family members’ at CIRDAP auditorium. WARBE development foundation and Lawyers beyond Borders’ Bangladesh jointly organized the dialogue.

Speaking as Chief Guest, Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry’s Secretary in charge Jabed Ahmed said that ‘culture of impunity’ for migrant workers took place both at home and destination countries. ‘Many of the victimized migrant workers are unaware about laws and they often feel discouraged to file cases fearing the hassles in legal process,’ he said. Jabed Ahmed, however, said that the government was committed to take protection measures to ensure justice to the migrant workers.

WARBE Foundation Chairman Syed Saiful Haque demanded ensuring migrant workers to have access to complaints before getting access to justice as there were no clear complaint centers or relevant information. ‘If migrants get problems to have access to justice, where can their family members who belong to them get the justice,’ he questioned. WARBE Development Foundation Secretary General Faruque Ahmed said that female migrant workers were being abused at home and destination countries as they were recruited by outsourcing method of recruiting agencies. He urged the government to set up dormitories for the domestic workers in destination countries as a protection measure from sexual abuses.  Faruque Ahmed, a returned migrant, appealed to the government to send migrant workers only from the governments’ database to slash involvement of middlemen.

Joint Secretary Kazi Abul Kalam, also former labour attaché, presented the keynote on Overseas Employment and Migration Act 2013 and Policy 2016 while WARBE Development Foundation Director Jasiya Khatoon made the welcome address at the dialogue. International Labour Organization’s National Programme Officer Rahnuma Salam Khan said that migrant workers could be brought under purview legal protection in destination countries by involving the legal institutes there. Country coordinator of Lawyers beyond Borders Bangladesh Abdullah Al Hasan said that proper implementation of the relevant laws should be ensured to protect the victim migrants. He emphasized on proper collaboration of information, fact and evidence from countries of origins to destinations to get justice for migrants. Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training Director Dr. Nurul Islam who presided over the dialogue said that domestic workers were facing overload of workers in the Middle East countries where working hours were not counted. Those issues would be discussed at the joint working group meeting, he assured. Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program Executive Director Omar Faruq Chowdhury demanded the immediate implementation of the overseas employment act which has been enacted four years ago.