The Lawyers Beyond Borders network was established by MFA in 2011 in response to the crucial need for more fair and adequate legal redress mechanisms for migrants, and increased coordination among legal practitioners in countries of origin and destination. Members of the Lawyers Beyond Borders network focus on migrant workers’ rights violation cases in Asia (West Asia in particular), and they make efforts to facilitate access to justice and apply strategic litigation and policy advocacy to their work.
On 5-7 September, Migrant Forum in Asia and Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre organized the 2nd Lawyers Beyond Borders regional conference: focus on access to justice for the rights of migrant workers and members of their families. 45 representatives, advocates, members of the bar council, activists, mission representatives and various CSOs convened in Beirut, Lebanon for the regional conference. The attendees were composed of: 20 lawyers and advocates from countries Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Philippines; 25 Civil society representatives with 7 representatives from Lebanon; and Mission representatives from the Embassy of Bangladesh, Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, Embassy of Indonesia, and Embassy of Sri Lanka.
The momentum built from the first convening of the network and the ongoing collaboration and discussions through the online listserv highlight the importance of strengthening the action points developed in 2011. The second conference gathered together existing and new members of the network to:
- Explore different areas of access to justice, including strategic litigation which aim to address grievances of and improve protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families in countries of origin and destination;
- Identify challenges in policy and national legal systems that limit or prevent migrant workers and members of their families in accessing and reclaiming justice;
- Recommend ways forward in ensuring an unhindered access to justice to uphold labor rights and human rights of migrant workers and their families
- Further strengthen the Lawyers Beyond Borders program by enhancing the capacities and knowledge of the members and partners on national, regional and international human rights and labor rights mechanisms, and increasing interaction and collaboration in relation to access to justice in countries of origin and destination.
The sessions discussed country access to justice for migrants and families in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Philippines. Specific cases studies were also highlighted in line with access to justice in two countries of destination: Jordan and Lebanon. Countries of origin chosen with specific case studies included Indonesia and Nepal. A specific session was also organized on public interest litigation, people’s tribunals, and addressing migrant workers’ rights violations through international human rights and labor rights treaties. The last day of the conference focused on developing a program of action for the Lawyers Beyond Borders network. The program of action included strengthening national lawyers networks and engagement with bar councils in both countries of destination and origin.