Kathmandu: Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun has asserted it was the “common responsibility” of all the destination countries to protect the rights of the migrant workers. He was speaking at the inaugural function of the ‘International Conference on Protection of Rights of the Migrant Workers’ organized by the National Human Rights Commission here Tuesday.
Stating that no atrocity was accepted in any form against the migrant workers, VP Pun said, “The concerned countries should ensure effective implementation of labour-friendly policies to put an end to exploitation of the labourers.” Stressing on the need for the destination countries to be more responsible to address the issues relating to the migrant workers, Pun emphasized on enabling migrant-friendly environment in the labour destinations.
The VP pressed for the destination countries to provide services and facilities to the migrant workers on par with their own citizens on the basis of their skills and capacity. “The common issues facing the migrant workers were untimely payment of their wages, not getting the agreed remuneration, labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, expulsion from work without convincing reasons and domestic violence among others,” he said, calling for collective efforts to promote and protect human rights of the migrant workers.
Furthermore, he underscored the need for the National Human Rights Institutions of the related countries to scale up their roles and responsibility to protect and promote the rights of the migrant workers in their countries. Stating that the conference would give a new message for securing the welfare of the migrant workers across the world, VP Pun shed light on the issues facing the Nepali migrant workers for lack of protection of their rights.
Similarly, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista said that protection of rights of migrant workers was a cause for concern globally and had mounting challenges to establish their rights in the context when even the protection of rights of animals were being acknowledged worldwide.
In the context of the migrant workers not being able to exercise their basic rights, Minister Bista underlined the need for honest effort and commitments to enhance the advocacies on the issues relating to the migrant workers. “Our collective efforts would be meaningful when we would make rights of migrant workers a cause for concern not only for the related individuals and organizations but all common people”, he said.
Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said protection of the rights and interests of migrant workers, addressing the issues of exploitation and discrimination constitute critical areas of priority to the Government of Nepal. “We would like our people wherever they live and work as migrant workers enjoy rights equal to that of local population in the workplace and receive equal economic and legal security from the country concerned,” he said.
Chairperson of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institution (GANRI) Dr Carlos Alfonso Negret Mosquera pointed out the need for solidarity among the member countries for protecting the rights of the migrant workers. UN Resident Coordinator Valerie Julliand called upon the states in the region to ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families so as to ensure better protection standards for the migrants.
Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission Anup Raj Sharma expressed the confidence that the outcome of the conference would contribute significantly to bring together all the stakeholders including NHRIs in implementing appropriate policies and measures, and create an environment for better respect and enjoyment of human rights.
The three-day conference organised by NHRC will assess the major challenges and opportunities to protect the rights of the migrant workers while strengthening the inter-NHRIs cooperation with multi-stakeholder approach in respect to rights protection. More than 120 participants representing 30 countries in the Asia Pacific region and beyond are taking part in the conference that will end with a Kathmandu Declaration.