Take action on International
Migrants Day (18 December) to prevent the exploitation of all
An estimated 90 million
migrants live and work outside their country of birth, many of them
having left in search of security and a sustainable livelihood.
Many economies have come to rely on migrants who are prepared to
work in what are often referred to as “3-D jobs” – dirty, degrading
and dangerous with little security and low wages.
Migrant workers are often
subjected to a variety of human rights abuses by unscrupulous
employers as well as host states. These include: non-payment of
salaries; confiscation of passports and other documents; verbal and
physical abuse; lack of proper housing and health provision; and
arbitrary arrest and detention in abusive conditions.
Women, who constitute around
fifty per cent of migrant workers, are particularly vulnerable to
exploitation, including sexual violence.
Migrant workers are often too
afraid to complain about their situation. If they do, they are
likely to be sacked by their employer and, if they turn to the
authorities, they may be deported from the country.
The Migrant Workers
Convention came into force in 2003 and reaffirms the obligation of
states to respect the human rights and freedoms of migrants
residing in their country. “It is a vital part of efforts to combat
exploitation of migrant workers and their families” in the words of
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, 2003. Only 34 states
have ratified this Convention to date. However, ratifying a
Convention does not always result in complying with the provisions
set out in it, and some of the ratifying states to the Migrant
Workers Convention have not lived up to their international
"I had been working in Qatar
for a Lebanese family for two years and two months, but had not
been paid a penny. When I told my employer I would complain to the
police, she immediately took me to the police. I was detained for
three days before they brought me to prison. I have been to court
six times. I have no lawyer and I don’t know what is
– 30 year old female domestic
worker from Indonesia.
Call on your government to
ratify and/or implement the Migrant Workers Convention.
Dear President / Prime
I am writing to urge you to
take all necessary measures to respect and protect the human rights
of all migrants in your country, in accordance with international
human rights standards and principles.
In particular, I urge you
to [ratify and]delete as
appropriatefully implement The
International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers
and Members of Their Families (The Migrant Workers
Migrant workers, many of whom
work in difficult and degrading jobs with little security and low
wages, are often exploited by unscrupulous employers and too afraid
to complain about their situation. Whether migrant workers are in a
regular or irregular situation in your country, their human rights
must be respected.
Ratification and full
implementation of the Migrant Workers Convention is an important
affirmation of a state’s commitment to respect, protect and promote
the human rights of everyone on their territory.