Bangladeshi Migrants: UN special envoy concerned over rights abuses
A special rapporteur told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that the lack of investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of human rights abuses of Bangladeshi migrants in the countries of destination was concerning.
Felipe González Morales, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, who visited Bangladesh on January 20 to 31, presented a report at the 53rd session (19 June to 14 July) of the council on Monday.
"Reports of widespread human rights abuses in the countries of destination continued, including abuses instigated within the kafalah system against domestic workers."
He urged the countries of destination to conduct a continual and thorough monitoring of the conditions of migrants, particularly women in the domestic service sector.
Morales particularly highlighted the rights abuses faced by the women migrants, who comprise around 10 percent of some 12 million Bangladeshi migrants working mostly in the Gulf and Southeast Asian countries.
They annually send home over $ 21 billion, which is about 40 percent of the total foreign exchange earnings and 7 percent of GDP. However, gaps in regulations and enforcement at home, as well as, lack of protection mechanisms in the destination countries often lead to exploitation.
Morales said despite adopting legislative and policy measures to regulate labour migration, he was concerned by the remaining gaps relating to unfair and unethical recruitment practices that led to the exploitation of aspiring migrant workers at the pre-departure stage.
"The high cost of migration continued to be problematic, and the vulnerability of many migrants to exploitation, trafficking and other human rights abuses needed to be effectively addressed," he said.
Aspiring migrants often must provide as much as $3,000 to $5,000 to gain access to work abroad, he said. As per the ILO Convention, migrants should not pay any fees for jobs.
According to the report, around 90 percent of the cost of migration is transacted through illegal brokers, as they were often individuals within their communities to whom they had easy access.
Aspiring migrants often have no proper knowledge about their rights and the important services provided by the authorities and thus become victims of abuse and fraud, Morales said.
He highlighted the need to enhance data collection on migrant workers and strengthen support for returning migrants.
The special rapporteur expressed concerns over the Rohingyas' lack of legal status and the protracted humanitarian situation in the camps of Cox's Bazar.
Speaking on behalf of the country, Bangladesh's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Sufiur Rahman said the report reflected progress made and challenges remaining.
He said Bangladesh was championing the Global Compact for Migration and was instrumental in the first Global Forum on Migration and Development of 2022. Bangladeshi legislation promoted opportunities for overseas employment and protected the human rights of the migrants it hosted.
Sufiur said Bangladesh attached great importance to the development of migrant workers' skills and seeks to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers through dialogue with host countries.
He added that Bangladesh extended support for the Rohingyas and is facilitating education to Rohingya children.
The government will carefully examine the recommendations of the special rapporteur, Sufiur added.