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The ASEAN Framework Instrument for migrant workers must be legally binding

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ASEAN needs to
change its mindset and perceive civil society as a partner in all its
processes, especially in the drafting of the association's Framework Instrument
on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers, said the Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers on 31 July 2009.

(Bangkok, 31 July 2009) ASEAN needs to
change its mindset and perceive civil society as a partner in all its
processes, especially in the drafting of the association's Framework Instrument
on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers, said a
regional human rights group during the 2nd ASEAN Forum on Migrant
Labour, hosted by the Thailand Labour Ministry and ASEAN secretariat in

The Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers
said "We applaud this initiative and we hope that this kind of stakeholder
dialogue can be sustained, expand its participation and to be institutionalised
within ASEAN. This process is very helpful in building trust and confidence to
achieve the people-centred ASEAN".

Samydorai, the convener of the Task Force (TF-AMW) added that "millions of
migrant workers are seeking a better future for themselves and their families
by working abroad in ASEAN, and as economic integration intensifies leading to
the full economic integration of ASEAN by 2015, this number will

"Moreover, the Instrument, an agreement
by ASEAN member countries should be legally binding, in line with the new ASEAN
Charter which has given the organisation a legal identity".

The theme of the two-day forum is "ASEAN
Declaration on Migrant Workers: Achieving its Commitments. It aims to move
forward to achieve the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the
Rights of Migrant Workers.

The forum, said to be ASEAN's first
broad-based consultation on labour migration issues also aims to build trust
and confidence through social dialogue among the various stakeholders. 
Its participants included civil society organisations, trade unions, employers
associations, national human rights institutions, governments, international
and regional organizsations and the ASEAN secretariat. This event is a prelude
to the 3rd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour planned for 2010 in Vietnam
as the next chair of ASEAN.

In view of the
current developments, Sinapan said "A new and fair deal is urgently required
for migrant workers in ASEAN by drafting and implementing the ASEAN Framework Instrument
on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers."

"We would be much appreciative if the
ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers [ACMW] members start to make reference in
their deliberations to the civil society's proposal on the ASEAN Framework
Instrument for the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers,"
he added.

"However, we thank the ASEAN Secretariat
for distributing copies to members of the ACMW at the SLOM. Three countries
informed us they received it and used it in the negotiation. We also appreciate
the Thai Ministry of Labour's initiative to distribute copies of the proposal
to all participants at the 2nd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour", said

The platform of more than 60
organisations working on migrant workers issues in ASEAN also urges that ASEAN
shall pay serious attention to recognise the migrant workers' rights, fully
protect the rights of all migrant workers – especially those who are in
vulnerable employment, regularise their status, and lower the costs of legal

TF-AMW calls for ASEAN member countries
to include all migrant workers and their families in the coverage of the ASEAN
Framework Instruments. Further more, the task force calls for better monitoring
and evaluation system to ensure that the ASEAN Framework Instrument is
effectively implemented.


TF-AMW has submitted the proposal to the
ACMW members and ASEAN Secretariat in May 2009 during the Senior Labour
Officials Meeting (SLOM).

The civil society's proposal to the
ASEAN framework instruments has comprehensively listed 192 recommendations
covering the: 1) Obligations of receiving states; 2) Obligations of sending
states; 3) Joint obligations of receiving and sending states; and 4)
Commitments by ASEAN. This extensive document is a result of the 8 national
consultations and 7 regional consultations from 2007 to 2009 involving more
than 1,000 civil society participants in 8 member countries of ASEAN.

The civil society ASEAN framework
instrument proposal emphasises on needs for a) an agreement to protect migrant
workers rights and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect, and
b) harmonisation of national laws to correspond to ILO core labour standards,
fundamental freedoms and rights at work.

The web-link to the civil society
proposal to the ASEAN framework of instrument, please click

The 2nd ASEAN Forum on
Migrant Labour's recommendation covers the scope and coverage of rights and
timeline for the drafting committee to finalize the draft which will be put
forward to the annual meeting of the ACMW which will be held in Thailand in the
last week of September 2009.

Declaration on the protection and promotion of the rights of Migrant workers

recognises their sufferings and calls for:  Article: 8. Promote fair and
appropriate employment protection, payment of wages, and adequate access to
decent working and living conditions for migrant workers; Article: 9. Provide
migrant workers, who may be victims of discrimination, abuse, exploitation,
violence, with adequate access to the legal and judicial system of the
receiving states.

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