Five African States Delegates Discuss Migrant Wokers’ Rights

International News: A virtual meeting has been held by the African Union Commission’s (AUC) AU-ILO-IOM-UNECA Joint Programme on Labour Migration Governance for Development and Regional Integration in Africa (JLMP) to discuss the draft study on access to justice and drafting of a practical guide for state authorities on gender-responsive reporting mechanisms for migrant Workers.

The virtual meeting was organized by the Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development (HSS) of the AUC in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The delegates from the governments of Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Morocco, as a pilot member states of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) reviewed documents developed based on extensive research conducted by the African Union Commission on the state of access to justice in the above pilot countries.

Sabelo Mbokazi, the head of division, labour, employment and migration at HHS highlighted the challenges faced by migrant workers. These challenges include including discrimination, limited access to justice which may be attributed to a number of factors like language barriers, limited legal knowledge, access to information, and vulnerability to exploitation and abuse.

“Such challenges are often compounded for women migrant workers, who may be discouraged from accessing justice mechanisms due to gender stereotypes, stigmatization or mobility constraints, in particular in the case of domestic workers” he said.

Mbokazi further emphasized the importance of gender-responsiveness in addressing the unique needs and vulnerabilities of male and female migrant workers, ensuring their rights are protected and promoting equality.

“Well governed labour migration can have a positive impact for countries of origin and destination as well as for migrant workers and their families, providing opportunities for economic growth, social and financial remittances, market development and skills exchange,” he added.

Migrant workers, according to participants, may experience stigmatization and abuse at all stages of their migration journey. The happen because migrant workers often face significant barriers to accessing justice mechanisms.

Member states have noted that the migration benefits can be realized when there is effective mechanisms to ensure access to justice, ensuring there is respect, protection and fulfillment of migrant workers’ human rights.

States can minimize injustices unleashed to migrant workers by holding perpetrators accountable, providing protection to migrant workers and providing avenues for remediation for rights violations.

The draft studies on migrant workers’ injustices highlights limited access to information and awareness of reporting mechanisms, inadequate institutional support, fear of reprisals and adverse consequences, difficulties in accessing reporting channels, isolation and privacy concerns, lack of incentives and remedies, distrust towards government agencies, and impractical complaint processes.

The draft practical guide on gender responsive reporting mechanism has noted that there is need for establishing effective reporting mechanisms that address the specific gender-related challenges faced by migrant workers. This includes recognizing the unique vulnerabilities and discrimination faced by migrant workers, particularly women, during the migration process.

Odette Bolly, the AUC JLMP coordinator, express her appreciation to member states for their valuable contributions in sharing best practices regarding step-by-step procedures and protocols for reporting incidents and seeking redress.

Odette acknowledged the significance of outlining the roles and responsibilities of diverse stakeholders, including government agencies, law enforcement, consular services, labour inspectors, and civil society organizations, in effectively and efficiently handling reports.

The delegates concluded with the expectation that the finalization of the documents will lead to improved access to justice for migrant workers and contribute to the creation of more inclusive and just societies. “The JLMP partners remain committed to supporting the participating countries in their efforts towards effective labour migration governance,” Ms. Odette added.

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