24 July 2017
During the Mekong Migration Network’s (MMN) two-day Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin, representatives of the Cambodian and Myanmar governments vowed to meet to discuss recommendations to jointly advocate to the government of Thailand for greater protection of migrant workers. The act of collaboration was prompted by Her Excellency Ms. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, and Permanent Deputy Chair of the National Committee For Counter Trafficking, who also agreed to host the meeting before 17 December 2017.
From 20-21 July, MMN, a sub-regional network of civil society organisations (CSOs) and research institutes, held a Policy Dialogue at the Summit Parkview hotel in Yangon, Myanmar. Representatives of the Cambodian and Myanmar governments, private recruitment agencies, the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, ILO, IOM, and CSOs from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines gathered to hear research findings and recommendations from MMN’s most recent project and publication, and discuss the roles countries of origin – particularly Cambodia and Myanmar – should play in protecting their nationals migrating abroad.
From April 2015 to May 2017, MMN conducted a research project to review the labour migration governance mechanisms of countries of origin, including national policies, common practices, and international standards. Through consultation meetings with 162 migrant workers in Thailand and returnees in Cambodia and Myanmar, along with interviews with Cambodian and Myanmar government officials, inter-governmental organisations, and recruitment agencies, the study analysed the policies and practices of these two origin countries.
MMN’s study also investigated measures put in place by the Philippines and Indonesia to protect their nationals migrating abroad. Through a case study analysis of Filipino and Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong, the study gleaned information on both effective and ineffective labour migration governance mechanisms, which aided MMN’s development of recommendations posed to the governments of Cambodia and Myanmar.
Director General U Win Shein of Myanmar’s Department of Labour under the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, opened the Policy Dialogue declaring, “countries of origin should work to reduce the time and bureaucracy required for the migration process, provide education and information, improve the quality of life of migrants, and ultimately aim to reduce poverty for migrants…We want to collaborate and get recommendations from different sectors, as well as listen to one another through positive and active communication so that we can provide better resources to protect migrant workers.”
Her Excellency Ms. Chou Bun Eng, the Secretary of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, and Permanent Deputy Chair of the National Committee For Counter Trafficking, called for fairer collaboration between origin and destination countries, especially given that origin countries often “run behind the decisions of destination countries like Thailand.” She explained that Cambodia “tries our best to overcome these complicated issues, however, Cambodia alone cannot solve the problem successfully.”
International Labour Organization Chief Technical Advisor Ms. Jackie Pollock reminded participants, “without a long-term vision for migration patterns, migration may lead to the stagnation of development with young people leaving the country taking their labour, ideas, and innovations with them. On the other hand, national and regional development policies, whether they are social and economic plans, rural development, or women’s empowerment, could embrace migration as one of the strategies to stimulate development, nationally and regionally.”
In order to better protect and promote the rights of migrant workers, MMN recommends that relevant Cambodian and Myanmar authorities:
- Institute migration mechanisms through which prospective migrants can obtain necessary documents for migration without excessive bureaucracy, cost, or travel;
- Establish effective complaint mechanisms which are accessible to all migrants both in destination countries and upon return, and facilitate the use of local complaint mechanisms where appropriate;
- Negotiate with and advocate to destination countries to improve conditions for migrant workers;
- Make greater efforts to disseminate information on safe migration, migration options, and alternatives to migration throughout the country;
- Provide meaningful regulation of recruitment agencies; not merely through the passing of laws and regulations, but effective monitoring and enforcement, including sanctions for non-compliance;
- Improve the quality and expand the delivery of pre-departure training so that all formal migrants go through effective and thorough training before deployment;
- Improve overseas assistance;
- Negotiate with the Thai government to develop a process whereby migrants can receive a lump sum payment for their retirement fund at the Social Security Office in Thailand; and
- Assist migrant worker returnees with social and economic integration, including making alternatives to re-migration available; assisting with processes such as household registration and registration for identity cards; and supporting returnees who have suffered occupational injuries or diseases.
MMN’S PUBLICATION: Safe from the Start: The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants
To access MMN’s latest publication, Safe from the Start: The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants, in English, Burmese, or Khmer, please visit:
- English publication: https://mekongmigration.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Safe-from-the-Start_English.pdf
- Burmese publication: https://mekongmigration.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Safe-from-the-Start_Burmese.pdf
- Khmer publication: https://mekongmigration.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Safe-from-the-Start_Khmer.pdf
ABOUT THE MEKONG MIGRATION NETWORK
The Mekong Migration Network (MMN) is a sub-regional network of CSOs and research institutes that has been working towards the protection and promotion of migrants’ rights in the Mekong Sub-region since 2001. MMN members operate in both countries of origin and destination, and have unique expertise in the field and close contact with migrant workers at a grassroots level. MMN also has regular dialogue with government stakeholders in Cambodia and Myanmar, which prompted the present in-depth study on the roles of countries of origin.
For more information about MMN, please visit our webpage at: www.mekongmigration.org.
For more information about the project, publication, or policy dialogue, please contact: