Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Asean states agree to protect migrant rights

Asean states agree to protect migrant rights

Asean leaders pose for a photograph after signing the Asean Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Workers on Tuesday in Manila.
Asean leaders pose for a photograph after signing the Asean Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Workers on Tuesday in Manila. Facebook

Asean states agree to protect migrant rights

ASEAN member states have signed an agreement on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers – more than a decade after originally pledging to do so.

The agreement includes fair pay protections and will require the 10 member states to organise predeparture training for all migrant workers.

It also requires states that send migrant workers abroad to “set reasonable, transparent, and standardized fees for passport issuance”, and to “take necessary actions to prohibit overcharging of placement or recruitment fees”.

While Cambodia in principle has set passport prices, many migrant workers have complained about exorbitant fees when applying for travel documents with agencies.

The Asean member states agreed in 2007 to draft protections for workers and have been criticised over the last decade for failing to do so.

If the guidelines are implemented, millions of Cambodian workers – mostly in Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea – stand to benefit.

Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour welcomed the new framework.

“We do hope that this tool will be able to protect all the migrant workers across Asean,” he said. “Each member state needs to take into account this protocol into their own laws, in order to ensure that domestic law of each member state complies with the principle of the Asean migration protection protocol.”

However, Mom Sokchar, programme manager at Legal Support for Children and Women, expressed concern by email that the agreement might lack teeth. “The implementation will still be subject to the respective laws of Asean Members States . . . There is a need to push for . . . [member states] to come up with a clear [commitment] to implement this,” he said.

He also criticised the fact that the agreement excluded undocumented workers from protection, unless they became undocumented “through no fault of their own”. Experts estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand alone.

Adrian Pereira, coordinator of the North-South Initiative in Malaysia, which works with migrants, said the agreement was “a start” but was too vague and not inclusive enough.

However, he said some concrete rights were given to workers, such as the right to join unions and associations.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release