Enabling Access to Justice: A CSO Perspective on the Challenges of Realising the Rights of South Asian Migrants in the Middle East

SAMEA2JCover smallIn 2015-2016, the GAATW International Secretariat undertook a project called the ‘South Asia – Middle East Access to Justice Project’ (SAME A2J Project) as part of a larger initiative, ‘Addressing Labour Trafficking of South Asian Migrant Workers in the Middle East.’ The objective of the SAME A2J Project was to identify cases in which migrant workers who had travelled to the Middle East as temporary labour migrants were trafficked, and to identify the barriers those workers faced accessing justice. The rationale for the project was a perception within GAATW that migrant workers from South Asia who were coerced, defrauded or deceived into situations of severe exploitation were rarely treated as trafficked persons and rarely received an adequate remedy.

A total of thirteen partner organisations from seven countries (Bangladesh, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Nepal and Sri Lanka) participated in the project. This report aims to capture one area of learning that emerged from the project: the barriers that project partners experience or observe when supporting migrant workers to access justice. Although specific barriers to justice may differ between countries, and even regions within countries, project partners identified many in common. These include legal and operational barriers, practical barriers, social and cultural barriers, as well as barriers within the organisations assisting migrant workers. 

The report concludes with reflections on the lessons learnt by the GAATW about the obstacles to justice for migrant workers, but also for organisations seeking to assist migrant workers and the effort required to overcome those barriers. It is not intended to dissuade civil society organisations or legal service providers from working to improve access to justice for migrant workers, but rather to highlight the complexity of human trafficking, and the many challenges along the road to justice.

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