Category Archives: Organized by MMN

Highlights of the MMN Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin

Highlights of the MMN Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin, held in Yangon on the 20-21 July 2017.

For proceedings of the MMN Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin are being finalized, please visit our website later again for update information.

MMN’s new report, “Safe from the Start: Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants”, now available in Burmese, English, and Khmer. Please click on the links below to download the full report.

English version: Safe from the Start_English

Khmer version: Safe from the Start_Khmer

Burmese version: Safe from the Start_Burmese

MMIN in media: Migrant worker protections ‘lacking’, reports find ( Phnom Penh Post)

Cambodian migrant workers who were deported by Thai authorities are processed at the Poipet Transit Centre earlier this month in Banteay Meanchey province. Sahiba Chawdhary

Cambodia lacks effective mechanisms to protect its citizens working both as legal and undocumented migrants abroad, where such workers also face insufficient protection from the countries that receive them, according to two new reports published last week.

The reports come at a time of major crackdowns on undocumented migrants in the region. Thousands of Cambodians have returned home after Thailand passed new laws imposing strict punishments on undocumented workers and their employers, while Malaysia has arrested thousands of workers since July 1 in a campaign against undocumented migrants.

Mekong Migration Network’s (MMN) report Safe from the Start – The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants found in interviews with Cambodian migrant workers that the Kingdom needs to better regulate its recruitment agencies, reduce costs and time for legal migration channels, provide better overseas assistance and establish effective complaint mechanisms. They also recommend strengthening predeparture training.

Reiko Harima, MMN regional coordinator, said in an email that “the most urgent tasks for Cambodia are to improve overseas assistance, and also to negotiate with Thailand to improve conditions for migrant workers”.

“[Migrants] reported to MMN that when they have approached embassies for help, they were not given assistance,” she said. What’s more, she added, “Cambodian migrants leaving Thailand experience difficulty securing the social security benefits that they are entitled to, as there is no practical mechanism for the transfer of money.”

In a push to document migrant workers in Thailand, Cambodia’s Labour Ministry in a statement yesterday clarified the procedure: Thai employers have to register their undocumented Cambodian workers by August 7 at one of the 97 newly established offices in Thailand, where Cambodians workers then have to present themselves between August 8 and September 9. Until December 31, workers “must not change the employer or locations, or resign without permission”.

Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour in a Facebook video on Sunday said the procedure benefited the workers, who would “get the salary based on the law of Thailand, get health and life insurance during the work and get the National Social Security from the Thai government”.

But Moeun Tola, director of labour rights group Central, yesterday said that this was insufficient. “It’s not effective enough yet, since some employers prefer hiring undocumented workers instead of documented ones,” he said.

However, Cambodia doesn’t bear sole responsibility for protecting its migrants, according to a report titled Towards a Comprehensive National Policy on Labour Migration for Malaysia.

The Migrant Workers Right to Redress Coalition expressed concern regarding recruitment processes – which they say have to be formalised and regulated better – and a number of other issues facing migrant workers, including Cambodians, in Malaysia.

“[There] is no comprehensive national policy on labour migration, to ensure . . . that abuses against workers, social dislocation, profiteering, human trafficking and modern day slavery are rooted out and stopped,” it reads.

Adrian Pereira, a coordinator for the North-South Initiative who was involved in the drafting of the paper, said in a message that the most urgent concern was that agreements between Cambodia and Malaysia and workers’ contracts should “guarantee basic rights of workers at all stages of recruitment to employment to return”. “Only when rights [are] in black and white can we ensure [they are] materialised and not based on ‘good will’ of any party.”

These rights include decent salaries, working hours, vacation days and more, he said.

Tan Heang-Lee, communications’ officer at Women’s Aid Organisation Malaysia, said that women were particularly vulnerable. “There must be greater recognition of domestic work as work, and of domestic workers as employees,” she said. “Migrant domestic workers are excluded from many of the protections and provisions of the Employment Act.”


By: Leonie Kijewski and Soth Koemsoeun, Phnom Penh Post

Published on: 25 July 2017



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:



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:



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

MMN Roles of Countries of Origin Policy Dialogue Meeting – July 20-21, 2017

Role of Countries of Origin Policy Dialogue

Mekong Migration Network

July 20 – 21, 2017, Yangon, Myanmar

Today, MMN began its two-day conference on the role that countries of origin should play in protecting migrants. The conference brought together representatives from the Myanmar and Cambodia governments, private recruitment agencies, civil society and international organizations to discuss the topic and generate ways that Myanmar and Cambodia can improve their support for migrant workers.

The conference opened with speeches from the Director General of the Department of Labour in the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population of Myanmar, U Win Shein, and the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior of the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, H.E. Ms. Chou Bun Eng. MMN regional coordinator Ms. Reiko Harima also addressed the conference.

U Win Shein emphasized that it was the responsibility of the country of origin to provide the conditions necessary to reduce poverty for migrants. He said that he was looking forward to the conference’s positive and active communication” in order to “provide better resources to protect migrant workers.”

In her speech, Her Excellency Ms. Chou Bun Eng called for more cooperation between origin and destination countries, especially since origin countries “run behind the decisions of destination countries.” She said that regardless of what Cambodia does, migrants are still extremely affected by decisions by the Thai government and that Cambodia cannot unilaterally counteract the effects of these policies.

Finally, Reiko Harima stressed that, “While destination countries must rightly bear the responsibility for the protection of migrant workers within their territory, countries of origin, nonetheless, have a crucial role to play by ensuring that their nationals are protected abroad and that they receive adequate pre-departure and reintegration assistance.” This is something that must be upheld for both documented and undocumented migrants.

After the opening ceremony, the panels began. The topics of the panels for day one were the following: migration mechanisms, information dissemination, regulation of recruitment agencies and overseas assistance. In each panel, MMN first presented its findings and recommendations from the report. Next, panelists were invited to respond with their own impressions and suggestions.

In the first panel on migration mechanisms, MMN recommended that documentation processes be simplified so that they do not create an additional burden for migrant workers. This includes shortening the processing times and reducing the costs, which both deter migrants from seeking documentation. MMN also advocated for origin countries to negotiate with destination countries to improve working conditions and ensure that labor rights are being protected. Thirdly, MMN recommended that governments expand their capacity to receive and effectively resolve complaints from migrants about their working conditions. Panelists suggested that origin countries negotiate with destination countries to allow migrants to collectively bargain. Others noted that it is extremely difficult for migrants to access information regarding migration mechanisms in both the origin and destination countries. Ms. Jackie Pollock of the ILO introduced the idea of implementing a system of direct hire of migrant workers; an organization such as the IOM or trade unions facilitating the migration process; and creating a regional code of conduct.

On information dissemination, MMN recommended that countries of origins expand their efforts to provide accurate, unbiased information to migrants. MMN also recommended that the quality of pre-departure training be improved and that its delivery be expanded. Many panelists said that social media, particularly Facebook, was a preferred medium for reaching migrants, as it could easily reach the greatest number of migrants for the cheapest cost. Ms. Wai Hnin Po, the National Project Coordinator for the International Labour Organisation, said that Myanmar can learn from the women’s exchange groups in Thailand, as one way of effectively sharing information with migrants, and that countries of origin should tap into the social networks that migrants have created themselves to effectively spread information. During the discussion, one participant asked the conference to remember that there are several million migrants already in destination countries and that reliable information must also be disseminated to them as well, not just those who have yet to migrate.

For the regulation of recruitment agencies, MMN advocated for effective implementation of monitoring mechanisms, arguing that many laws exist in name only and are not meaningful. Mr. Chuop Narath, the Deputy General Director of the Labour Department, within the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training of Cambodia, recognized that his department still received complaints from migrants traveling through legal channels. Mr. Pin Vireak, the Executive Director of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said that his organization worked closely with the ILO to develop curriculum for pre-departure training. He also suggested that the government take a greater role in regulating advertisements from recruitment agencies. Finally, he agreed with the MMN recommendation about setting up standard recruitment fees and that ACRA should consider how to implement and manage such a fee.

In the final panel of the day, MMN recommended that origin countries allocate sufficient staff and budget to supporting migrants abroad through their embassies and consulates and beyond. MMN specifically highlighted the need for continued outreach to workers after migration from origin country resources and the need for greater collaboration between CSOs in destination countries and embassy/consular staff in supporting migrant communities. As part of this panel, Mr. Jan Michael Gomez from the Philippines Embassy in Yangon shared best practices from his country. He noted that there are several funds specifically allocated for supporting migrant workers, including hiring legal assistance, and that the Philippines is one of the only countries in the world to have a Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for Migrant Workers.

The day concluded with small group discussions on each of the four topics, with each group deciding ways that all stakeholders can move forward in supporting migrants in their home countries.

The group discussing migration mechanisms recommended that bilateral agreements be promoted as their binding nature could help secure desired outcomes to protect migrants. It also said that Cambodia and Myanmar should partner to collectively bargain with Thailand. The group discussing information dissemination suggest regional campaigns for safe migration and having each state use state media to share information. The group discussing regulation of recruitment agencies advocated for a regional code of conduct for recruitment agencies and more training for workers and employers alike. Finally, the group discussing overseas assistance suggested that origin countries increase the number of one stop service centres and labor attaché offices, as well as collaborate more with CSOs.

As part of the conference, MMN also launched its new publication, “Safe from the Start: The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants,” which includes all of the recommendations referred to above. It is the culmination of a multi-year study which evaluated into the existing institutions that support migrant workers in countries of origin through consultations with migrants in both destination and origin countries, interviews with stakeholders and examination of government laws and policies.

The English version of the report can be accessed at the link here. The Burmese version can be found here and the Khmer version here.

The video of the opening ceremony can be found below:


MMN in media: Mekong Migration Network recommends the Countries of Origin governments for better access to necessary documents and complaint mechanisms ( Burmese Language video)

ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းလုပ္သားမ်ား လိုအပ္သည့္ စာရြက္စာတမ္းမ်ား ရယူေရးႏွင့္ တိုင္ၾကားရာတြင္ ပိုမိုအဆင္ေျပေအာင္ ေဆာင္ရြက္ေပးရန္ မဲေခါင္ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းသြားလာျခင္းဆိုင္ရာ ကြန္ရက္ အၾကံျပဳ

ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းလုပ္သားမ်ား လိုအပ္သည့္ စာရြက္စာတမ္းမ်ား ရယူေရးႏွင့္ တိုင္ၾကားရာတြင္ ပိုမို အဆင္ ေျပေအာင္ ေဆာင္ရြက္ေပးရန္ မဲေခါင္ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းသြားလာျခင္းဆိုင္ရာ ကြန္ရက္ အၾကံျပဳ (ရုပ္သံ)

ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းလုပ္သားေတြအတြက္ စာရြက္စာတမ္းေတြ ရယူေရးနဲ႔ တိုင္ၾကားမႈေတြျပဳလုပ္ရာမွာ ပိုမိုအဆင္ ေျပေအာင္ေဆာင္ရြက္ေပးဖို႔ ျမန္မာနဲ႔ ကေမၻာဒီးယားႏိုင္ငံေတြကို မဲေခါင္ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းသြား လာျခင္းဆိုင္ရာ ကြန္ရက္အဖြဲ႕က အၾကံျပဳခဲ့ပါတယ္

Mekong Migration Network recommends Myanmar and Cambodia Governments to provide better access to necessary documents and complaint mechanisms to migrant workers.

The Mekong Migration Network conducted research that focused on the needs of migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar/Burma. The results of their research brought them to make 11 recommendations to both the Burmese and Cambodian Governments to provide better migration practices, which include improved access to necessary documents and complaint mechanisms to migrant workers.

 Mekong Migration Network is holding Policy Dialogue Meeting on Roles of Countries of Origin starting from 20th July in Yangon. The purpose of the two day meeting was to bring together key stakeholders, government officials, recruitment agencies and CSOs from both Myanmar/Burma and Cambodia. The outcome from the meeting, is to use the information as an advocacy tool for the governments and the CSOs to better foster the issue. The next step is to present this information to the high ministerial level step by step.

By: Eleven Broadcasting

On: 21 July 2017

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