Author Archives: admin

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[Policy Paper] Reforming the “Sponsorship System” for Migrant Domestic Workers: Towards an Alternative Governance Scheme in Lebanon

Written by Dr. Kathleen Hamill (member of Lawyers Beyond Borders) for KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation, this policy paper analyses the “sponsorship system” (kafala) in place in Lebanon, as this system has been identified as a root cause for the vulnerability of domestic workers to all manner of exploitation, abuse, and mistreatment.

The study builds on previous research and policy proposals forwarded by KAFA and other groups, and addresses gaps in existing research. Its aim is to provide policy-makers, human rights advocates, and relevant stakeholders with a framework for a rights-based approach to recruitment and employment of migrant domestic workers, towards the development of an alternative policy.

Download the full paper prepared by Dr. Kathleen Hamill for KAFA, Lebanon (January 2012)

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[Study] Something is Better than Nothing: Enhancing the protection of Indian migrant workers through Bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding

The study deals primarily with MOUs entered into by the Government of India, showing that India’s recent record has been impressive in negotiating many MOUs, and social security agreements and one labor mobility partnership. Yet, it is difficult to find much evidence that the MOUs  and agreements on labor migration have  contributed to improved protection of Indian workers in the major destinations –  the Gulf countries  and Malaysia.

However, this should not imply that India is better off without MOUs. The existence of MOUs has a political value, and they have provided a firmer foundation for the country to build upon in this regard. In this sense, an agreement or MOU is better than a situation of no agreement or MOU. The MOUs provide a broad framework but they need to be backed up by concrete initiatives in the areas of model contracts, workplace monitoring, dispute resolution mechanisms, mechanisms for access to justice, monitoring practices of recruitment agencies, and adequate labor inspection systems. While these may be harder to negotiate, they should nevertheless receive high priority if MOUs are to have operational value in protecting Indian migrant workers abroad.

Download the full article prepared for MFA by Dr. Piyasiri Wickramasekara (February 2012)

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United Nations international legal instruments

Category : International Law

All migrant workers are entitled to the rights established under international law in these United Nations international legal instruments:

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Countries of destination: laws and government agencies

For laws and government agencies responsible for the rights and welfare of migrant workers in the countries of destination in Asia, see the compilation of links below.

Disclaimer: MFA is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Bahrain | Jordan | Kuwait | Lebanon | Oman | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Thailand | UAE







Saudi Arabia





Di Bartolomeo, Anna, Tamirace Fakhoury and Delphine Perrin. “Jordan,” CARIM Migration Profile. 2010  (accessed 27 July 2014).

Human Rights Watch. Walls at Every Turn: Abuse of Migrant Domestic Workers through Kuwait’s Sponsorship System. 2010 (accessed 24 July 2014).

Human Rights Watch. For a Better Life: Migrant Worker Abuse in Bahrain and the Government Reform Agenda. 2012 (accessed 24 July 2014).

ILO. Natlex. 2014. (accessed 25 July 2014).


Last update: 28 July 2014

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Countries of origin: laws and government agencies

For laws and government agencies in the countries of origin responsible for the rights and welfare of migrant workers, see the links below.

Disclaimer: MFA is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Bangladesh | India | Indonesia | Nepal | Pakistan | Philippines | Sri Lanka







Sri Lanka


Last update: 22 July 2014

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Frequently Asked Questions on Labour Law and Redress Mechanisms

During the fist meeting of Lawyers Beyond Borders in Bangkok, the group drew up a series of frequently asked questions that could be used to guide migrant workers, civil society advocates, and NGOs when workers require basic legal advice.

The first four questions are as follows:

1.  Are migrant workers protected by the labor law and labor regulations in your country? If so, then which provisions of the labor law are most relevant and useful to lawyers, advocates, and migrant workers? Are there any restrictions on the application of the labor law to migrant workers in your country? Explain.

2.  What is the first point of contact for purposes of litigation in criminal complaints? In labor complaints? Compare and contrast. What is the statute of limitations for filing civil, labor, or criminal complaints with the courts on behalf of migrant workers in your country? Provide details.

3.  Do various types of contracts exist for migrant workers in your country? Are migrant workers and their employers obliged to sign a standard unified contract in order to be eligible for a work permit from the Ministry of Labor? Is there a distinction between limited and unlimited contracts in your country? Explain.

4.  Where can migrant workers find legal advice and legal representation in your country? Who currently offers these services and who pays for them?

Click here to download compiled answers for the country contexts of Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, Philippines, and Qatar.

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5th World Social Forum on Migration

wsfm logoFrom 26-30 November, the Philippines will host the 5th World Social Forum on Migration.

The World Social Forum on Migration (WFSM) is one of the thematic processes of the World Social Forum (WSF). The WSF is a global process of, and by, social movements, mass organisations, civil society, activists and advocates. As reflected by its slogan, “Another World Is Possible”, the WSFM explores an alternative world order, and the building of societies and communities characterized by mutually-beneficial relationships among people and with the environment. WSF promotes and consolidates a globalization of solidarity, collective analysis, discourse, and people’s action.

The WSFM provides a space for democratic debate, reflection, sharing of ideas and experiences, cultural exchange, socialization, networking, enhancing solidarity, consensus-building, discussion of plans and strategies, and popularization of positions, agendas and actions on migration and mobility-related issues. “Migration and mobility” includes but are not limited to:

  • labor migration
  • refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people
  • trafficking and smuggling of people
  • internal and cross-border migration
  • families and communities of migrants
  • the economic, political, social, cultural and gender dimensions of migration and mobility
  • rights, principles and standards of protection for migrants and their families
  • the linkages between migration and human rights, development, economy and finance, food and jobs, environment, governance, citizenship, etc.
  • strategies, responses and advocacies on the above issues
Some lawyers from the Lawyers Beyond Borders network will be delegates at the WSFM, and a workshop on the Kafala System is being facilitated by Kathleen Hamill, network member. For more information, visit

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1st Lawyers Beyond Borders Program: Building Partnerships for Justice for Migrant Workers

IMG_9113From 23-25 November 2011, Migrant Forum in Asia and local organizing partner, Human Rights and Development Foundation in partnership with Open Society Foundations (OSF), hosted Lawyers Beyond Borders: Building Partnerships for Justice for Migrant Workers in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference was the first of its kind, bringing together 31 lawyers from the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia who specialize in cases involving migrant workers. In addition to the lawyers were civil society activists in the area of migrants’ rights and observers from OSF.

This convening of lawyers was the result of four years of thinking and strategizing by MFA and its various partners, including Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Migrant Workers Committee, and individual lawyers throughout Asia. It was designed in response to the recognized need for collaboration among lawyers who work on the cases of migrant workers in order to move towards impact litigation and policy advocacy in their work.  This program was also looked at as a means of beginning to forge important connections between lawyers and grassroots organizations working with migrant workers on the ground, as well as migrant communities in both countries of origin and destination.

An action plan was drawn up collaboratively on the final day of the workshop. The plan includes a series of projects that will be undertaken collectively, including:

  • drawing up plans for paralegal training sessions that will better connect civil society and foreign missions to the work of lawyers, and to help them to assist migrant worker communities with their legal needs;
  • compiling resources that will be of use to lawyers, migrant worker advocates, and migrant communities; supporting advocacy campaigns (e.g. the ratification of ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers);
  • supporting one another through effective networking and information sharing