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Uphold rights of migrants irrespective of their status

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Uphold migrant workers' rights

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On International Migrants Day — which is observed on 18 December annually — the Malaysian Bar acknowledges the contributions of all migrant workers to the development of Malaysia as well as their home countries.

Malaysia hosts at least two million documented migrant workers and additionally, a huge number of undocumented migrants.

Migrant workers form an important part of Malaysia’s economy, in both the formal and informal sectors. It is therefore essential that Malaysia protects the jobs and livelihoods of these migrant workers, as anything less would adversely affect the survival of industries and businesses across the country, especially during this time of the coronavirus pandemic.

We hope the government can continue to provide free Covid testing to all migrants and consider imposing a temporary moratorium on arrests of undocumented migrants. This is necessary to curb the spread of the virus at places of detention where physical distancing is almost impossible.

The Malaysian Bar commends the government’s move to enforce amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 to ensure that migrant workers have a safer standard of living.

In conclusion, the Malaysian Bar calls on the government to:

  • Make public the report by the Independent Committee on the Management of Foreign Workers and implement its recommendations
  • Implement the recommendations put forward by the Bar Council in its report titled “Developing a Comprehensive Policy Framework for Migrant Labour”, which include among others

– working closely with country-of-origin governments to fine-tune the recruitment system, to ensure that migrant workers are recruited in a regular manner and are equipped with the necessary skills in tandem with their employment as well as knowledge on their labour rights and obligations

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– extending the Malaysian government’s legal aid programmes, including those of the Legal Aid Department (Jabatan Bantuan Guaman) and National Legal Aid Foundation (Yayasan Bantuan Guaman Kebangsaan) to cater for migrants and refugees in Malaysia

  • Ensure full respect for the human rights and humane treatment of migrants, regardless of their migration status, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015
  • Accede to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1990. This convention recognises and guarantees respect for the dignity and rights of all migrants, regardless of their national origin or immigration status
  • Adhere to the principles in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to which Malaysia is a signatory.

Salim Bashir is president of the Malaysian Bar

This piece is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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loyal malaysian
loyal malaysian
22 Dec 2020 10.23am

This is a good call by the Malaysian Bar.
Those of us who have come across undocumented migrant workers or know someone who has, have heard the horror stories of their maltreatment at the hands of our enforcement agencies.
I am no economist but I know the millions of undocumented migrant workers play an important part in our nation’s economy.
At this time of the health pandemic, the Malaysian Bar’s call is all the more pertinent.
Otherwise I can’t see how nation will be able to control the covid 19 infections.

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