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Indonesian civil society review role of the National Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers

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About 20 Indonesian civil society organisations met on 15 April in Jakarta to review the monitoring activities of the Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers. The meeting included two officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and another two officials from Department of Manpower and Transmigration from Indonesia and concluded with several recommendations to improve the condition of migrant workers in ASEAN countries.

(Jakarta) On 15 April 2008, about 20 Indonesian civil society organisations participated in a consultation workshop in Jakarta to share and review the monitoring developments of the Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers. It’s been a year since the Task Force last met on 12 May 2007.

The half-day meeting saw participation from non-governmental organisations, trade unionists and government officials from Indonesia’s Department of Manpower and Transmigration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the workshop, which heard presentations on ASEAN and migrant workers issues from the two government officials, participants welcomed urgent cooperation between the various sectors working on migrant rights. FORUM-ASIA also presented a paper on civil society engagement with the ASEAN Human Rights Body, including several advocacy strategies at the regional and international levels.

Participants also acknowledged civil society’s contribution in addressing the problems of migrant workers in ASEAN countries, and welcomed the Task Force and its initiatives towards the promotion and protection of migrant workers’ rights in Asia.

In line with this spirit, officials from the two government departments said they looked forward to feedback and recommendations from the local groups present at the meeting.

The key issues ASEAN highlighted during the presentation included the fact that ASEAN was continuing to reform itself through the years. Since its establishment 40 years ago, ASEAN has been transformed from a loose organisation to a role-based and people-centred organisation.

Since the 2006 Cebu Declaration, ASEAN has begun to discuss not only the promotion but also the protection of migrant workers. It acknowledged the responsibility of both sending and receiving countries in working together to ensure that migrant rights were protected. It also elaborated the roles of ASEAN to respond to migrant workers’ issues.
At the workshop, participants:
1. Affirmed the  ASEAN declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, launched on 13 January 2007; 
2. Called for more efforts to be made in monitoring and ensuring the implementation of the ASEAN Declaration at the national level;
3. Agreed to form a committee at the national level to monitor the implementation of the 15 points of recommendations made last year;
4. Agreed to exchange information among trade unions, civil society organisations and government institutions and to monitor developments in the implementation of the ASEAN declaration
5. Agreed to put together a matrix of civil society organisations and trade unions’ commitment in line with the 15 points in the ASEAN declaration.


The Task Force is a “regional mechanism” comprising trade unions, human rights and migrant rights non-governmental organisations and migrant-worker associations. The Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers was set up in April 2006 as one of the initiatives of the Solidarity for Asian Peoples Advocacy (SAPA), an ASEAN working group.

It has launched national and sub-regional consultations and social dialogue on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers. To date, consultations have been conducted in six ASEAN countries. The Task Force has also engaged in several ASEAN-led and regional CSO-TU-led consultations since 2006.