The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka expresses its major concerns over Migrant Issues by establishing a New Focal Point.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka which is vested with the power of monitoring Human Rights situations is deeply concerned with the promotion and protection of Migrant workers rights. The Commission identified the importance of the institutional framework for labor migration provided by the Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare which is the primary regulatory body for overseas migration.
The Sri Lankan diplomatic missions in labour receiving countries are also equipped with a mandate and facilities to provide for the protection and welfare of all Sri Lankan workers overseas. While appreciating the key roles played by the other key government institutions and agencies in the process of protecting and promoting the rights of the migrants in the Sri Lankan context, we as the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has its major concerns over the role played by the Sri Lankan Embassies and their consulates in looking after the interest of its citizens in the countries of destinations.
The Diplomatic Missions, Embassies, Consular and Labour Welfare Officers all play a crucial role in respect of its citizens when discharging their duties in protecting the rights of migrant workers in host countries. In the light of the above, the HRCSL Chairman Justice Priyantha R.P. Perera had already issued guidelines for the attention of the Hon Minister concerned and the respective Ministries of External Affairs, Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, and Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment.
The guidelines are:
- Establish networking systems on migrants in detention and accurately informed of the status of their cases and of their right to contact a consular or embassy representative and members of their families and to have a follow-up procedure.
- Establish a regular visiting mechanism to safe houses or centers where the irregular migrants are kept and to develop and continue assistance programmes to migrants deprived of their liberty, including legal assistance, translation services to fill the gaps on communication, social and psychological assistance.
- The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) and the Ministry of External Affairs must design a system to enable the consular/ welfare officers to check periodically on the well being of house maids who go as low skilled migrant workers especially to the Gulf Continent Countries.
- Consular / Labour Welfare Officers be given adequate resources for the performance of all required activities for protecting the rights of migrant workers and for organizing cultural events for the migrant workers to maintain their cultural links with Sri Lanka.
- A Female Labour Welfare Officer be appointed to serve in every mission in order to address gender related problems of women migrant workers who would be effectively at ease in communicating with a female officer.
- The SLBFE and the Ministry of External Affairs should evaluate the current training programme in order to ensure the adequacy of the training provided for the particular Consular / Welfare Officers before they are posted overseas.
- Ensure that a the consultancy or expertise through a consultant takes place to analyze existing training curricula and draft a comprehensive training manual for representatives of the bureau attached to Sri Lankan Missions.
The Commission is keen that the above criteria should be adopted as the working mechanism through out all the respective Diplomatic Missions placed in Host Countries.
The Commission monitors the progress of the implementations of the guidelines issued, through the newly established Focal Point on Migrant Issues within the purview of the Director, Monitoring and Review of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.
Correspondence on Migrant Issues through Focal Point on Tel/Fax (+94) 011-2673806 or by email email@example.com