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FOCUS September 2002 Volume 29

Migrant Workers


The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families may soon take effect. This convention declares the rights of migrant workers whether they are documented or undocumented.

This convention explains that the rights of the "... migrant workers and members of their families have not been sufficiently recognized everywhere and therefore require appropriate international protection."

It further states that "...human problems involved in migration are even more serious in the case of irregular migration and convinced therefore that appropriate action should be encouraged in order to prevent and eliminate clandestine movements and trafficking in migrant workers, while at the same time assuring the protection of their fundamental human rights."

Some migrant workers suffer most in the current system of migration. They are the so-called "low skilled labor" such as domestic help, construction workers, and agricultural laborers. They suffer from low or unpaid wages, physical abuse, bad working conditions, and also long period of detention if not summary deportation. Governments in many receiving countries fail to respond to the needs of these workers who supply an essential labor component of their economies.

The role of receiving countries in protecting the rights of all migrant workers is obviously indispensable. The failure of receiving countries, therefore, to become party to the convention will make its implementation ineffective.

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