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PRESS RELEASE: MMN’s Policy Dialogue results in the governments of Myanmar and Cambodia vowing to collaborate to protect migrants

24 July 2017

During the Mekong Migration Network’s (MMN) two-day Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin, representatives of the Cambodian and Myanmar governments vowed to meet to discuss recommendations to jointly advocate to the government of Thailand for greater protection of migrant workers. The act of collaboration was prompted by Her Excellency Ms. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, and Permanent Deputy Chair of the National Committee For Counter Trafficking, who also agreed to host the meeting before 17 December 2017.

From 20-21 July, MMN, a sub-regional network of civil society organisations (CSOs) and research institutes, held a Policy Dialogue at the Summit Parkview hotel in Yangon, Myanmar. Representatives of the Cambodian and Myanmar governments, private recruitment agencies, the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, ILO, IOM, and CSOs from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines gathered to hear research findings and recommendations from MMN’s most recent project and publication, and discuss the roles countries of origin – particularly Cambodia and Myanmar – should play in protecting their nationals migrating abroad.

From April 2015 to May 2017, MMN conducted a research project to review the labour migration governance mechanisms of countries of origin, including national policies, common practices, and international standards. Through consultation meetings with 162 migrant workers in Thailand and returnees in Cambodia and Myanmar, along with interviews with Cambodian and Myanmar government officials, inter-governmental organisations, and recruitment agencies, the study analysed the policies and practices of these two origin countries.

MMN’s study also investigated measures put in place by the Philippines and Indonesia to protect their nationals migrating abroad. Through a case study analysis of Filipino and Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong, the study gleaned information on both effective and ineffective labour migration governance mechanisms, which aided MMN’s development of recommendations posed to the governments of Cambodia and Myanmar.

Director General U Win Shein of Myanmar’s Department of Labour under the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, opened the Policy Dialogue declaring, “countries of origin should work to reduce the time and bureaucracy required for the migration process, provide education and information, improve the quality of life of migrants, and ultimately aim to reduce poverty for migrants…We want to collaborate and get recommendations from different sectors, as well as listen to one another through positive and active communication so that we can provide better resources to protect migrant workers.”

Her Excellency Ms. Chou Bun Eng, the Secretary of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, and Permanent Deputy Chair of the National Committee For Counter Trafficking, called for fairer collaboration between origin and destination countries, especially given that origin countries often “run behind the decisions of destination countries like Thailand.” She explained that Cambodia “tries our best to overcome these complicated issues, however, Cambodia alone cannot solve the problem successfully.”

International Labour Organization Chief Technical Advisor Ms. Jackie Pollock reminded participants, “without a long-term vision for migration patterns, migration may lead to the stagnation of development with young people leaving the country taking their labour, ideas, and innovations with them. On the other hand, national and regional development policies, whether they are social and economic plans, rural development, or women’s empowerment, could embrace migration as one of the strategies to stimulate development, nationally and regionally.”

In order to better protect and promote the rights of migrant workers, MMN recommends that relevant Cambodian and Myanmar authorities:

  1. Institute migration mechanisms through which prospective migrants can obtain necessary documents for migration without excessive bureaucracy, cost, or travel;
  2. Establish effective complaint mechanisms which are accessible to all migrants both in destination countries and upon return, and facilitate the use of local complaint mechanisms where appropriate;
  3. Negotiate with and advocate to destination countries to improve conditions for migrant workers;
  4. Make greater efforts to disseminate information on safe migration, migration options, and alternatives to migration throughout the country;
  5. Provide meaningful regulation of recruitment agencies; not merely through the passing of laws and regulations, but effective monitoring and enforcement, including sanctions for non-compliance;
  6. Improve the quality and expand the delivery of pre-departure training so that all formal migrants go through effective and thorough training before deployment;
  7. Improve overseas assistance;
  8. Negotiate with the Thai government to develop a process whereby migrants can receive a lump sum payment for their retirement fund at the Social Security Office in Thailand; and
  9. Assist migrant worker returnees with social and economic integration, including making alternatives to re-migration available; assisting with processes such as household registration and registration for identity cards; and supporting returnees who have suffered occupational injuries or diseases.

 

MMN’S PUBLICATION: Safe from the Start: The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants

To access MMN’s latest publication, Safe from the Start: The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants, in English, Burmese, or Khmer, please visit:

 

ABOUT THE MEKONG MIGRATION NETWORK

The Mekong Migration Network (MMN) is a sub-regional network of CSOs and research institutes that has been working towards the protection and promotion of migrants’ rights in the Mekong Sub-region since 2001. MMN members operate in both countries of origin and destination, and have unique expertise in the field and close contact with migrant workers at a grassroots level. MMN also has regular dialogue with government stakeholders in Cambodia and Myanmar, which prompted the present in-depth study on the roles of countries of origin.

For more information about MMN, please visit our webpage at: www.mekongmigration.org.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

For more information about the project, publication, or policy dialogue, please contact:

ASEAN shelves declaration on rights of migrant workers

ASEAN member states have failed to reach a consensus on a highly anticipated migrant workers’ protection instrument, prompting the region’s senior officials to shelve the declaration for the next summit in November.

For months Indonesia and the Philippines had played up the adoption of the ASEAN Declaration on the Promotion and Protection of Migrant Workers’ Rights, an instrument that would provide robust protection for all migrant workers in the region.

Now, Jakarta found itself in the minority of those who insist on the declaration’s legally-binding nature, as even Manila was resigned to the idea of a non-enforceable instrument, said Jose AM Tavares, the Foreign Ministry’s director general for ASEAN affairs, who said Indonesia would need to rethink its strategy on pursuing an enforceable instrument.

“The issue will [be discussed] beyond the upcoming ASEAN summit, even though there will still be a statement pushing for its adoption by year’s end,” Jose said after concluding a preparatory ASEAN senior officials meeting in Manila on Thursday, emphasizing that ASEAN labor ministers would convene next month for a follow-up meeting.

“We hope to conclude the instrument in the coming months, so that it can be tapped as an outcome document at the November leaders’ summit,” Jose added.

ASEAN is currently split between sending states of migrant workers, like Indonesia and the Philippines, and receiving countries, like Malaysia and Brunei, on issues related to the protection of migrant workers, particularly the undocumented ones. (ipa)

By: Tama Salim, The Jakarta Post

Published on: 28 April 2017

Thai and Vietnamese PMs to co-chair 3rd joint cabinet retreat on 23 Jul

Thailand will host the third meeting of the joint Thai-Vietnamese Cabinet retreat on July 23 with Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung co-chairing the event.

Spokesperson of the Foreign Affairs Ministry Sek Wannamethee said the meeting’s agenda covers such issues as the extension of Thai-Vietnamese cooperation in the fields of defense, transnational crimes especially narcotics and human trafficking, trade and investment facilitation, cross-border bus services, coastal shipping for product transfer and tourism. Languages, cultural and sport exchange, as well as provincial-level cooperation between the two countries are also likely to be discussed.

At the meeting, the prime ministers of both sides will witness the signing of five documents, namely a joint statement of the third joint cabinet retreat, a memorandum of agreement on employments, a memorandum of understanding on labour cooperation, a MOU on the establishment of Friendship Cities between Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani and Vietnam’s Kon Tum and another MOU between Thailand’s Trat and Vietnam’s Long An.

By: National News Bureau of Thailand
Published on: 16 July 2015

Lao workers may get extension for nationality check

THAILAND and Laos have agreed in principle to extend the timeframe in verifying the nationality of Lao workers now in Thailand, according to a report by the Vientiane Times.
It is estimated that nearly 2 million migrant workers, mainly from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, are in Thailand.

The newspaper quoted the head of office of the Labour and Social Welfare Ministry, Khamkhane Phinsavanh, as saying Laos was unlikely to complete nationality verification for all Lao workers in Thailand by the end of March under the original deadline.

As a result, authorities from both countries had agreed in principle to extend the timeframe. He said a team of Lao officials arrived in Thailand last week to carry out verification.

Cambodia and Myanmar began working with Thai authorities on the process earlier this month. As of January 6, the nationality of nearly 36,000 Cambodians and 65 Myanmar citizens had been verified. However, none of the registered Lao workers had yet had their nationality verified.

Khamkhane said officials in charge needed time to prepare for the procedures.

Deputy director-general of the Skill Development and Employment Department under the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Bounma Sitthisom, said it could take more than six months to verify the nationality of all Lao workers in Thailand and legalise them.

Nationality identification is part of the process to legalise the status of Lao workers in Thailand. All required documents will be processed in Thailand so workers do not have to return to Laos to obtain them.

According to a memorandum of understanding on labour cooperation between Laos and Thailand, a Lao worker with legal documents can work in Thailand for two years, with the option to extend for another two years.

After reaching the four-year limit, the worker must return to Laos and work in his or her home country for three years before returning to Thailand to work.

By: The Nation
Published on: 13 January 2015

Legalisation of Lao workers in Thailand begins

A team of Lao officials has arrived Thailand to verify the nationality of Lao workers there, according to a senior government official.

More than 200,000 Lao workers and about 9,000 family members have been registered across Thailand, Thai media reported recently.

Head of Office of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Khamkhane Phinsavanh, told the Vientiane Times on Friday that Lao officials travelled to Thailand last week to carry out the verification process.

National News Bureau (NNB) of Thailand reported on Thursday that Lao officials had begun the verification process that day.

Four nationality verification centres have been set up in Samut Prakan, Chiang Rai, Tak and Ranong provinces to verify the nationalities of workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, according to NNB.

Cambodia and Myanmar began working with Thai authorities on the verification process earlier this month. As of January 6, the nationality of nearly 36,000 Cambodians and 65 Myanmar citizens had been verified. However, none of the registered Lao workers have yet had their nationality verified.

Mr Khamkhane said officials in charge needed time to prepare for the procedures, meaning Laos began the work at a later date than Cambodia and Myanmar.

Given that Laos is unlikely to complete nationality verification for all Lao workers in Thailand by the end of March under the original deadline, Mr Khamkhane said authorities from both countries had agreed in principle to extend the timeframe.

Deputy Director General of the Skill Development and Employment Department under the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Bounma Sitthisom, said previously it could take more than six months to verify the nationality of and legalise all Lao workers in Thailand.

Lao officials are carrying out the work at a centre in Samut Prakan province. Laos is also planning to dispatch mobile teams to reach out to all Lao workers across Thailand, NNB reported.

Nationality identification is part of the process to legalise the status of Lao workers in Thailand. All of the required documents will be processed in Thailand so workers do not have to return to Laos to obtain these documents.

According to a memorandum of understanding on labour cooperation between Laos and Thailand, a Lao worker with legal documents can work in Thailand for two years, with the option to extend for another two years.

After reaching the four year limit, the worker must return to Laos and work in his or her home country for three years before returning to Thailand to work.

By: Souksakhone Vaenkeo, Vientiane Times

Published on: 12 January 2015

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