Migrant labor and human rights: building connections between civil society in Japan and Southeast Asia

Managing international labor migration in an increasingly global society has emerged as a paramount challenge of the 21st century. As migration flows continue to grow worldwide, Asia has become a key region that is both the source of as well as the home to the largest number of international migrants in the world according to UN statistics. However, in spite of the growing need for coordination among sending and receiving countries, the international conversation, particularly among civil society stakeholders, has not been sufficient. In light of these emerging trends, the Asia Social Integration Department at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) launched a new initiative to encourage networking between ASEAN countries and Japan to promote a more holistic discussion of migration issues and bring the voices of migrant workers, advocates, and academics to an international audience.

As part of this effort, SPF invited three migration and human rights experts from countries that send a large number of migrant workers to Japan – Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam – to meet with advocates, academics, and other stakeholders in Japan. The three participants were Mr. Daniel Awigra, program manager for ASEAN Advocacy with the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) in Indonesia; Ms. Cecile Pauline Sanglap Montenegro, president of Batis-AWARE (Association of Women in Action for Rights and Empowerment) in the Philippines; and Mr. Vu Ngoc Binh, senior advisor at the Institute for Population, Family and Children Studies (IPFCS) in Vietnam. Over the course of a week from the end of November to early December, the three participants attended a series of workshops and field visits in Osaka, Kobe, Yokohama, and Tokyo.

When discussing the inspiration behind this new initiative, Fumiko Okamoto, director and senior program officer for the Asia Social Integration Department at SPF, explained that her group was impressed with the advocacy work in ASEAN, but noticed a lack of coordination with Japanese NGOs working on similar issues. “If civil society in both sending countries and receiving countries understand the issues, we can collaborate with each other to improve the situation,” said Ms. Okamoto, noting that SPF as a private foundation has the ability to connect these actors. Mariko Hayashi, program officer for the Asia Social Integration Department, also observed that often non-government actors in sending countries and receiving countries tend to focus only on their direct concerns without grasping the bigger picture. These countries “need to know what’s happening before migrants come here, what happens to the families and communities left behind, and what happens after they go back” said Ms. Hayashi. “Migration is really continuous, so that’s why we think there should be more of a network between the sending countries and receiving countries.” With this visit as a first step, the program is poised to welcome participants from a variety of countries and possibly bring Japanese civil society stakeholders to ASEAN countries to deepen regional networks moving forward.

Three perspectives from Southeast Asia
Cecile Pauline Sanglap Montenegro

While the program participants each specialize in different fields, they are united by their dedication to the human rights dialogue in their country as well as the concerns of migrant workers. Cecille currently serves as the president of Batis AWARE, an organization that supports women survivors of human trafficking and other abuses who are returning to the Philippines after working overseas. Her years of advocacy on behalf of female migrant workers have been informed by her own experience working as an entertainer in Japan in the 1990s. “I was a migrant worker for 10 years here in Japan and all of the discrimination and unequal support from the companies, the managers, and employers that I had is still happening right now,” said Cecille.

Beyond her personal experience, Cecille’s artistic talent served as the key inspiration for the program she currently runs at Batis AWARE. “I asked myself, as a former migrant worker, what is the best of me that I can use to help other people, especially other women who are also having this experience like what I had before?” said Cecille. She found that interpreting her memories through painting became therapeutic, which led her to design an empowerment program based around art. She noted that the reaction has been very positive “because some of the women and children can’t speak about their issues vocally because some of them are ashamed.” However, Cecille envisions a future for women to become more than the products of their experiences. “I really want victim survivors to not only be a victim and not only be a survivor, but to also be an inspiration for women.” Moving forward, she hopes to connect the program participants with academics and universities to increase awareness and push for change in the local community.

Daniel Awigra
Daniel Awigra

Awigra is currently a program manager with the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), an Indonesian coalition of NGOs seeking ASEAN integration and regional implementation of human rights standards. While ASEAN countries in particular have reaped the economic rewards of labor migration, Awigra pointed out that “the huge benefit of these people working abroad is not followed by the protection of their rights.” To address this disparity, Awigra is currently working on a project to increase the accountability of ASEAN governments and other regional players to ensure meaningful implementation of migrant labor protections agreed to by heads of state at the 2017 ASEAN Summit. “We are trying to fill the gap to say to governments that you can’t just say good things in the international forum. You also have to follow up,” said Awigra.

As part of this effort, Awigra and HRWG in collaboration with SPF published a baseline study in 2018 outlining the conditions for migrant workers in ASEAN countries to serve as a starting point for regional discussions. “By sharing our baseline study and the mechanisms that we have in Southeast Asia, hopefully we can create tools to communicate [with other countries] so that we can make a bridge between sending countries and Japan,” said Awigra.

The full article can be read on the Sasakawa Peace Foundation’s website.

LSM: Pemerintah Masih Punya Pekerjaan Rumah Soal HAM

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA — Sebanyak 11 LSM menyampaikan pernyataan bersama terkait dengan terpilihnya Republik Indonesia untuk menjadi anggota tidak tetap Dewan Keamanan (DK) PBB. Mereka mengingatkan pemerintah untuk tidak menjadikan status tersebut sebatas untuk menaikkan posisi tawar secara global.

Dalam pernyataan bersamanya, 11 LSM mengatakan Indonesia ditantang untuk menghormati standar hukum internasional dan secara substantif memperbaiki situasi HAM. Kesebelas LSM tersebut antara lain Komisi Untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan (Kontras), Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI), Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Masyarakat (LBHM), Pusat Studi Hukum & Kebijakan (PSHK), dan Intitute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR).

Selain itu, Perhimpunan Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (PBHI), Yayasan Perlindungan Insani Indonesia (YPII), Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Pers (LBH Pers), Rumah Cemara, dan Lokataru Foundation juga satu suara soal hal tersebut.

Menurut LSM, ditinjau dari konstelasi politik internasional dan secara prosedural, Indonesia memang memenuhi syarat dan lebih diunggulkan untuk menjadi anggota tidak tetap DK PBB. Namun, modal konstelasi politik global dan prosedural yang dimiliki Indonesia dinilai tidak berbanding lurus dengan kondisi faktual yang terjadi di dalam negeri.

Mereka menilai pemerintah Indonesia masih memiliki banyak pekerjaan rumah yang harus dibenahi terlebih dahulu, terkhusus dalam bidang HAM. Seharusnya itu menjadi rujukan sekaligus uji keyalakan bagi Indonesia untuk terpilih sebagai anggota tidak tetap DK PBB.

Sebelumnya, Menteri Luar Negeri RI Retno Marsudi menyampaikan empat prioritas Indonesia selama menjadi anggota tidak tetap Dewan Keamanan Perserikatan Bangsa-Bangsa (PBB) untuk periode 2019-2020. Keempat prioritas Indonesia itu disampaikan Menlu RI melalui konferensi video langsung usai pemilihan Indonesia sebagai anggota tidak tetap DK PBB periode 2019-2020 di Majelis Umum PBB di New York, yang diikuti Antara pada Jumat (8/6) malam.

Menlu RI menyebutkan bahwa salah satu prioritas Indonesia di DK PBB adalah melanjutkan kontribusi untuk upaya mewujudkan perdamaian dunia. Prioritas kedua Indonesia di DK PBB adalah membangun sinergitas antara organisasi-organisasi regional dan PBB untuk menjaga perdamaian dan stabilitas di kawasan.

Kemudian, prioritas ketiga Indonesia selama menjadi anggota DK PBB adalah upaya untuk meningkatkan kerja sama dalam memerangi terorisme, ekstremisme dan radikalisme. Selanjutnya, prioritas keempat Indonesia di DK PB adalah menyinergikan upaya penciptaan perdamaian dengan upaya pembangunan yang berkelanjutan.

Baca berita selanjutnya disini.

HRWG Desak Presiden Tuntaskan Kasus HAM Masa Lalu

Bisnis.com, JAKARTA – Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) mendesak komitmen Presiden Joko Widodo untuk menyelesaikan kasus pelanggaran Hak Asasi Manusia (HAM) masa lalu termasuk menyelesaikan perdebatan antara Kejaksaan Agung dan Komisi Nasional HAM.

Direktur Eksekutif HRWG Muhammad Hafiz mengatakan bahwa bila dibandingkan dengan 20 tahun lalu, proses penegakan hukum dan penyelesaian kasus pelanggaran HAM semestinya sudah lebih maju.

“Pada medio 1999-2000, Pemerintah Indonesia bisa menghasilkan dua UU dan peraturan lainnya yang memperkuat jaminan HAM dan mendorong proses penyelesaaian pelanggaran HAM yang pernah terjadi,” paparnya dalam keterangan resmi yang diterima Bisnis, Sabtu (9/6/2018).

Muhammad menuturkan pemerintah dan legislatif pada periode itu berhasil mendorong terbitnya beleid UU Nomor 39 Tahun 1999 tentang HAM dan UU Nomor 26 Tahun 2000 tentang Pengadilan HAM sebagai tonggak komitmen negara.

Terkait perdebatan Kejaksaan Agung dan Komnas HAM, hal itu bermula pada 2012 di mana Komite HAM PBB memasukkan deadlock dalam rekomendasi dan meminta pemerintah bisa menyelesaikannya.

“Namun, hingga kini bahkan setelah Presiden RI menemui korban pekan lalu, kebuntuan belum juga bisa diatasi. Kejaksaan tetap memaksa untuk tidak melanjutkan ke proses penyidikan dan Komnas HAM sangat terbatas dalam penyelidikan,” ujarnya.

Oleh karena itu, HRWG menilai pentingnya Presiden Jokowi membuat teroboasan kebijakan bila kasus pelanggaran HAM ingin diselesaikan.

“Wacana mengeluarkan Peraturan Pemerintah Pengganti UU (Perppu) revisi UU Nomor 26 Tahun 2000 yang memberikan mandat lebih kepada Komnas HAM adalah pilihan strategis harus dilihat Presiden,” lanjut Muhammad.

Dalam UU itu, hanya ada pemberian kewenangan penyidikan kepada Komnas HAM (pasal 18). Selain itu, dengan bukti permulaan yang ada, kesimpulan hasil penyelidikan diserahkan kepada penyidik (pasal 20).

Sementara itu, penyidikan masih dilakukan oleh Jaksa Agung (pasal 21).

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