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UN Rapporteur on Migrants to visit SL in May

2014 Mar 10

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants is planning a week-long visit to Sri Lanka on 19-26 May 2014 to assess the situation pertaining to migrant workers, according to the UNHRC.

In his first visit to Sri Lanka, François Crépeau, a Canadian-based right academic, will focus on a number of issues.
They include recruitment practices of labour migrants while looking at a number of relevant topics, including: the legal and institutional framework; bilateral agreements signed with migrant receiving States; pre-departure training and information provided to prospective migrants; the role and regulation of private recruitment agencies and brokers (sub-agents); recruitment fees; consular assistance provided to Sri Lankan migrants in their country of employment; and reintegration services offered to returned migrants.

Local officials who confirmed the visit said Prof. Crepeau’s trip is based on an invitation extended by the Sri Lankan government. The US-backed resolution on Sri Lanka before the ongoing UN Human Rights sessions in Geneva also refers to the impending visit saying it ‘welcomes the decision of the Government of Sri Lanka to facilitate the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and to issue an invitation to to the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants …”In Colombo, local groups involved in migrant worker issues, concerns and their welfare were in consultations to prepare a memorandum for a detailed discussion with the visiting envoy.

Among issues of concern being flagged by local groups are that many labour agreements are still in the form of MOU’s rather than bilateral arrangement, leaving migrant workers in a weak negotiating position and that they don’t often have access to redress or grievance mechanisms.

The lack of voting rights leaves them with little bargaining power among governments and political parties, rights activists say. The Special Rapporteur will also discuss issues pertaining to detention of illegal immigrants in Sri Lanka.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur provides for examining ways and means to overcome the obstacles existing to the full and effective protection of the human rights of migrants, recognizing the particular vulnerability of women, children and those undocumented or in an irregular situation; to request and receive information from all relevant sources, including migrants themselves, on violations of the human rights of migrants and their families; and to formulate appropriate recommendations to prevent and remedy violations of the human rights of migrants, wherever they may occur, among other matters.

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