Enhancing Access to Justice for Trafficked South Asian Migrant Workers in the Middle East

 

Duration: January 2015 - December 2016

Location: South Asia and the Middle East

Beneficiaries: Workers migrating from South Asia to the Middle East, trade unions, governments in South Asia and the Middle East

What is this project about? 

The issue of human trafficking has been on the international agenda for over a decade now and a broad definition of trafficking that embraces all forms of labour has been in place since 2000. However, work on trafficking in the context of labour migration is still in its infancy. Countries in South Asia have been slow to recognise the link between internal and overseas labour migration and human trafficking. In their zeal to promote overseas migration, the government of Bangladesh actively rejects the application of the anti-trafficking framework to issues of exploitation within labour migration. And yet, reports of the exploitation of workers are abundant and migrant rights groups struggle to provide some assistance to the severely abused and returnee migrant workers. 

The research carried out by ILO in 2013 entitled Tricked and Trapped documented the prevalence of human trafficking in the Middle Eastern region, where many migrant people from South Asia work. Interestingly however, all the major labour receiving countries in the Middle East have signed and ratified the UN Convention onTransnation al Organised Crime. Several of them are also donors of the UN’s work to eradicate human trafficking. However, their record to address the problem of trafficking in their own countries is dubious. Although some campaigns are currently underway to expose the extent of forced labour and trafficking in the Middle East, further work is urgently needed. Some advocacy is happening in countries of destination to address the widespread violation of migrant workers’ rights. It would be worth putting additional pressure on the governments of the Middle Eastern countries using the anti-trafficking framework. 

GAATW-IS and many of our members have been working on the issue of Access to Justice since 2006. Following an international consultation in 2006, we carried out work in Asia, Africa and Latin America and set up a dedicated website. A toolkit to use CEDAW was also prepared in 2011 in addition to other publications. 

What are we going to do?

  • Conduct preliminary preparation and organise visits to select countries of destination;
  • Conduct a desk research for updating the Access to Justice website, desk research on destination countries and research for the case analysis workshop;
  • Organise a Case Analysis Workshop on labour exploitation for NGOs from countries of origin;
  • Organise a Case Analysis Workshop in Amman and Beirut;
  • Provide technical support/resources for project partners to do case documentation and follow-up;
  • Advocate on the international level, as per opportunity. 

Project Partners: KAFA-Lebanon, Kuwait Trade Union Federation, National Domestic Workers Movement-India, People’s Forum Nepal, Pourakhi-Nepal, Tamkeen Foundation-Jordan, OKUP-Bangladesh.

Funding support: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Women’s World Day of Prayer. 

Find out more: Access to Justice website; A Toolkit for Reporting to CEDAW on Trafficking in Women and Exploitation of Migrant Women Workers; ILO: Tricked and Trapped: Human Trafficking in the Middle East