Probe into unnatural deaths of migrant workers: Rights activists
Bangladeshi migrant rights activists and researchers have demanded that authorities investigate into the unnatural deaths of migrant workers in the destination countries, including those in the Gulf.
They also called upon the labour-recipient countries to set up teams of inspectors and medical examiners in facilities which engaged migrant workers, and to introduce non-invasive autopsy procedures in consultation with experts.
These observations came at the launching of a multi-country report on "The death of migrant workers in the Gulf", organised at a Dhaka hotel today by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU).
According to the report, the bodies of migrant workers received at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport are 1,951 in number from January to September in 2021, 1,807 in 2020 and 2,165 in 2019.
A Human Rights Watch Report on Oman and UAE noted that 21 out of 87 domestic workers who were interviewed experienced "psychological or health problems upon their return because of their exploitative working conditions in the Gulf."
Suicide attempts by female migrant workers have been documented as well.
RMMRU Executive Director Dr CR Abrar said the competition among the countries of origin and perceived benefits of outward migration and the Gulf states' effective use of economic and political leverage deter the host countries to collectively demand for better protection.
He further said that in the absence of proper mitigating measures migrant workers are exposed to hard climatic conditions and these risks are compounded by abusive working conditions, including excessive working hours and intake of non-nutritious diet.
He added that a lack of implementation of occupational safety measures and mental stress are some of the factors resulting in untimely death of migrant workers.
Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua reminded that conducting autopsy of all unnatural deaths of its nationals is the legal obligation of Bangladesh.
He also called for engaging the ILO and World Health Organization to ensure health protection of workers in the destination countries.
Shariful Hasan, head of BRAC Migration Programme, emphasised on the need for developing a module for health protection of migrant workers in the pre-departure training manuals.
Former Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain regretted that the host countries have thus been unable to exert sufficient pressure on the countries of destination to ensure the protection of migrant workers.
Ruling party MP, Tanvir Shakil Joy, highlighted the need for mobilising the collective strength of the sending countries through various regional and international forums.
Mehjabin Khaled, Secretary General of Bangladesh Parliamentary Caucus of Migration, underscored the need for a public discussion on protection issues in the parliament.