The government should emphasize on the rights of the expatriates during the bilateral agreement in a bid to protect them from abuse, misuse and torture occurred by the employers in aboard.
The speakers made the suggestions while talking about expatriates’ issue at the round table meeting titled 'Getting Justice for Migrant Workers: National and International Perspective'.
They also made urge to the officials of the embassies to be more responsible to ensure the rights of the expatriates while they move to the embassies with their complaints.
Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit (RAMRU) and Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) organized the event jointly at the conference room of The Daily Samakal on Sunday.
The discussants said, “Remittances sent by expatriate workers are one of the driving forces of the country's economy. But when they start process to go abroad, they have to bear harassment everywhere from passport office to immigration. Even if when they set foot abroad, they have to face torture, harassment. Then they find justice far away. And they also do not get any help from their country's embassy.”
The Daily Samakal's Advisory Editor Abu Sayeed Khan chaired the round table discussion while RAMRU Executive Director CR Abrar moderated the event.
Chairman of the National Press Council and former judge of the Appellate Division Nizamul Haque Nasim, Chair of Parliamentarians Caucus on Migration and Development Barrister Shamim Haider Patwari MP, former Joint Secretary of Ministry of Expatriates Kazi Abul Kamal, retired Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Touhid Hossain, Professor of Law Department of Dhaka University Mahbubur Rahman, Head of BRAC Migration Shariful Hasan spoke on the occasion, among others.
Nizamul Haque Nasim expressed his experience as saying, “In the last decade of the 20th century, labor oppression in Malaysia was the most-talked-about issue. At that time, a delegation from the country visited to Malaysia to see the situation and judicial system. Then we observed that 4,000-5,000 workers come to Bangladesh embassy to take service every day. But the embassy did not cooperate accordingly. The officials did not perform their duties properly.”
“Due to the lack of inter-ministerial coordination, expatriate workers are suffering from torture and harassment. Even if they file a case, they are not getting justice. In order to ensure justice for expatriates, the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Foreign Employment should take over the work. Interference of other ministries should be stopped. A separate judicial arrangement has to be made for this,” said Barrister Shamim Haider Patwari.
In the president's speech, Abu Sayeed Khan said, “After the famine in 1974, farmers turned to agricultural machinery but they could not afford to buy these instruments. At this time, the children of farmers moved to the countries of Middle East. Their earnings were used to buy agricultural machinery. Governments and NGOs claim to contribute to food self-sufficiency but one of the claimants of this achievement is our expatriates. We are failure to give the respect and dignity that should be given to the expatriates.”
“There are many achievements of migrant workers. There are rules and regulations for them but they have no dignity and rights. Migrant workers are not aware of their rights. For this, they prey to fraud and torture going abroad. Again, the embassy officials are not responsible for upholding the rights of our expatriate workers,” observed Dr. CR Abrab.
Kazi Abul Kamal opined as saying, “About 77 percent of workers of the country are going abroad with the help of friends and family members. In the process of movement, most of them are harassed by brokers. Although there is a three-day training system to avoid the suffering of expatriate workers, it is not being properly implemented. Again, even if they suffer abroad, they have to take legal assistance with their own money. I think this money needs to be provided from the revenue sector of the government.”
“A laborer from India or Nepal costs Tk72,000 while reached Malaysia. On the contrary, it takes two and a half lakh taka for our worker to leave country, disclosed Tauhid Hossain, urging, “This discrimination needs to be eliminated. Migrant workers are not getting justice due to corruption in this sector. We have to get out of this culture of injustice.”
Professor Mahbubur Rahman opined, “They should be made aware of the rights of migrant workers and the action should be taken if they don't get it. Arrangements should be made to appoint legal aid officers in Bangladesh embassies abroad.”
“Workers come under harassment in various ways before leaving country. After moving to abroad, some of them have to work18-20 hours a day; more than 20 people live in one room, creating health hazard. About 45,000 migrant workers have died in the last 15 years, an average of 10 a day. Most of these deaths in 20 to 30-year-olds are due to stroke and heart disease but there is no investigation into these incidents,” said Shariful Hasan, adding, “In the last six years, more than 500 expatriate women workers' bodies have arrived in the country, out of which 84 committed suicide. Why they committed suicide is never being investigated. Despite suffering so much, expatriate workers are not getting human dignity in our embassies.”
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