Regional Consultation on the Civil Society Advocacy to the ASEAN Instrument on Migrant Workers
Jakarta, 17th July 2017
by Muhammad Hafiz, the Executive Director of HRWG
It is a great honour for me to welcome you to the Regional Consultation on the Civil Society Advocacy to the ASEAN Instrument on Migrant Workers that will be started by today until 19th July 2017. I would like also to thank Bapak George J. Lantu, Director of ASEAN Functional Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia to give welcome remarks at this meeting and Ibu Roostiawaty, The Director of Labor Market Development, Ministry of Manpower of Indonesia who will share the negotiation process of the draft Instrument of Migrant Workers in ASEAN.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate the organiser from Human Rights Working Group and Solidaritas Perempuan who have successfully organised this meeting. HRWG and Solidaritas Perempuan have been actively engaged with Indonesian Representatives of ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers from Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss on the forthcoming adopted ASEAN instrument of migrant workers in next ASEAN Summit on November 2017 in the Philippines.
The number migrant workers are kept growing in ASEAN since ASEAN has already launched the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 which allow ASEAN citizen to work in their neighbouring ASEAN countries. ASEAN Economic Community has become the major milestone to the economic development in regional agenda. However, the challenges are quite dangerous especially to the vulnerable groups who need maximum protection from ASEAN government undeniably migrant workers.
Thus it is very important for civil society in the region to engage in the adoption process of the instrument on migrant workers in ASEAN that has been mandated on the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers or Cebu Declaration ten years ago.
Currently, HRWG evaluated the Recommendations of the ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML) that one of recommendation is to continue the drafting of the regional instrument for the migrant worker. The publication and assessment showed us that the implementation of Cebu Declaration and AFML’s recommendation have not fully implemented and ASEAN should have a stronger legal framework which can ensure human rights protection for all migrant workers.
In line with that, the ASEAN Labour Ministers Retreat on February 2017 in Davao City, Philippines, has made significant milestone to the negotiation process of the draft ASEAN instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.The retreat finally has unlocked the unfinished debate on some contentious issues namely legal status of the document, protection for undocumented migrant workers and their family members, and the nature of the instrument.
Now, ASEAN has the draft Instrument of the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers as agreed by the ASEAN Labour Ministers and the ASEAN Senior Labour Officials. However, the finalisation of the draft is getting stagnant due to some pending articles.
Having that said, it is urgent for us as ASEAN civil societies to be included in giving our recommendation to those pending and contentious issues. Hopefully, your valuable inputs, recommendation, and argumentation in this meeting will be further discussed and compelled to be ASEAN CSOs’ Submission for ASEAN leaders.
Let me end this speech by saying that this regional Consultation is one of the milestones to ASEAN CSOs to be heard and included in the process of ASEAN’s effort to protect the MW in the region, including also in the drafting of the Instrument for migrant workers and their family members.
In the end, we should ensure ASEAN as “caring and sharing” community that prioritise and protecting the rights of migrant workers as the part of ASEAN people centred, people, oriented.