Category Archives: Activities

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Lawyers Beyond Borders Conducts National Consultation in Lebanon

Migrant Forum in Asia together with Caritas Lebanon Migrants Center organized the Lawyers Beyond Borders national consultation in Lebanon on March 13, 2016 at Padova Hotel bringing lawyers and advocates to talk about who are working on labour and human rights violation cases of migrant workers in the country. Lawyers joining the “local chapter” in Lebanon identify major and common areas of concern on the situations of migrant workers and collaborate with migrant support groups / civil society in Lebanon and with stakeholders in the countries of destination should they require support in understanding and applying legal policies. The meeting’s objectives include:

  • Discuss issues of migration, human rights and access to justice for migrant workers
  • Sharing of experiences among the lawyers and legal aid practitioners in Lebanon in terms of improving access to justice for migrant workers in the country.
  • Identify a common platform among lawyers in Lebanon that can mobilize actions to integrate migrants’ rights issues in their work and enhance the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families in the country.

Noha Roukoss from CLMC talked about the Local labour policies and regulation, its mechanisms an challenges in Lebanon. An expert from the International Labour Organization Ms. Zeina Mezher, National coordinator of the labour migration programme discussed the implementation of ILO Labour Standards in the context of Lebanon. Atty. Henry Rojas, LBB Regional Coordinator, also discussed the process of cross border litigation in the context of a country of origin.

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LBB PH Book Launch Held Successful

As we celebrate today the 25th Anniversary of the UN’s International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families, the LBB Phil, by way of expressing its support to and solidarity with all the migrant workers, launched its first Book, a compendium of Selected Philippine Laws, Rules and Regulations on Overseas Employment on 16 December 2015, in Quezon City, Philippines. 

The book launch was attended by the members of the LBB Philippines, Selected government participants, CSO representatives and other stakeholders. The book is intended for the use of Lawyers and other advocates in addressing access to justice for Filipino migrant workers.


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MFA, MBC Holds 3rd Lawyers Beyond Borders Meeting in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Organized by Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) and the Malaysian Bar Council (MBC) with support from the Open Society Foundations (OSF), the 3rd Regional Conference of the Lawyers Beyond Borders Network was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14-15 November 2015. The meeting concentrated on progress, updates, and information sessions from its local chapters (Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh) as well as from its individual participants-the meeting concentrated on Gulf Countries (dominantly as countries of destination). There were 45 participants in total from 19 countries across the regions of Asia.

A number of the sessions were dedicated for promising practices, litigation interests, and access to justice, sharing of experiences, passport confiscation and recruitment reform. The last session was purposed to discuss the next steps and action plans for the future LBB meeting and projects as a network where the participants discussed the possibility and need for an advisory council as well as membership and the processes and requirements of accepting future members.

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Date Confirmed for the 3rd Lawyers Beyond Borders Conference

Category : Activities

The 3rd Conference of the Lawyers Beyond Borders  (LBB) Network is scheduled on 14-15 November 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The conference will be held at the Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel. This year’s meeting will focus on the following key objectives:

  • Review progress on the action plan from the previous Lawyers Beyond Borders Conference
  • Acceleration and facilitation of access to justice for Migrant Workers and members of its families
  • Continue outreach to other constituencies and stakeholders (parliamentarians, grassroots communities, government ministries, etc.)

For more details, please contact Migrant Forum in Asia at

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Launching of LBB Bangladesh


The launching of the LBB Bangladesh was held on July 4, 2015 in Bangladesh. This one-day workshop was centered around capacity building aimed to convened workers and practitioners on labor and human rights violation cases of Bangladeshi migrant workers.

Dr. Chowdhury Abrar, Executive Director, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit presented reports that delved on two main topics: “International Human Rights Instruments Relevant to MW’s and their families” & “Labour Migration Governance in Bangladesh: Gaps and Challenges”. The chief technical advisor of ILO, Nisha, discussed International Labor Standards and Migrant Workers and the trends regarding these two components. She summarized how government has dual responsibility in securing migration and integration processes in the social economy.

Mr. Abdullah Al Hasan, Director-Program of the Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers’ Association (BNWLA)/ LBB-Bangladesh gave a presentation on Governance of the State on International Labor Migration and the Nexus with Trafficking. He stated that there are gaps in legislation in Bangladesh as well as a lack of a monitoring mechanism.

Two speakers from countries of destination, Qatar and Malaysia, attended the program. Nizar Kochery, Founder and Lead International Consultant Kocheries Legal Consultants LLP presented on the legal environment in Qatar for migrant workers, including how this affects them. Mr. Dato’ M. Ramachelvam, Chairperson, Migrants, Refugees & Immigration Affairs Committee Malaysian Bar Council discussed about the policies and laws that affect migrants in Malaysia including the constitution of Malaysia as well as trade union policies.


CLICK HERE FOR : Workshop Report, LBBBC

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Launch of LBB Sri Lanka

LBB Sri Lanka’s first meeting and launching was held on July 20, 2015 in Colombi, Sri Lanka attended by 22 lawyers who practice in different courts from Colombo and provinces in Sri Lanka. The launch was organized by the MFA and local LBB member, Lawyers Network for Migrant Workers.

The report by the Sri Lanka chapter of the LBB relays some of the difficulties Sri Lankan workers face as migrant employees. Participating and being part of the LBB, the speakers’ forward notable topics as indicated below. Bradford Smith Secretary of the UN Committee on Migrants Workers discussed the treaties and conventions that are necessary for understanding guidance for lawyers working in migration. Migration Expert and ILO Consultant Piyasiri Wickramasekara highlighted the work of the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) as an implementing arm of the labor migration process of the country. Lastly, Dr. Nizar Kotchery, Lead Consultant and Founder Kochery & Partners LLP Qatar discussed employment laws of Qatar as well as some recommendations how the LBB can further promote the rights of MW’s.


At the end of the program LBB Sri Lanka members put forward a program of action for the national chapter, which includes the following:

  • Look at the Philippine System of migration and try to adopt in Sri Lanka.
  • To adopt writing contracts on vernacular (Sinhala and Tamil) of a migrant worker.
  • Organize a steering committee to strengthen the Sri Lankan LBB chapter. To engage their government to promote Oversees absentee voting.
  • To examine others countries’ mandates for comparison. To endorse problems discussed during the session to the government.
  • To call for ratification of ILO 189.
  • To set-up a legal clinic for migrants workers.
  • Set-up help desks for destination countries in the Middle East to push for Saudi Arabia Law for Domestic Helpers.
  • For the LBB south Asian chapter to come together and discuss pertinent issues on migration and how lawyers may address them.

LBB Sri Lanka Meeting – July 20, 2015 Report

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LBB Philippines Free Legal Clinic for Migrant Workers

Category : Activities

LBB Philippines

LBB Philippines

We are very much pleased to inform you that Lawyers Beyond Borders Philippines, Inc., or LBB Phil, has just lauched its Access to Justice Periodic Forum today, 7 September 2015, in partnership with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Regional Satellite Office XII.  The same was participated by 50, more or less, Returning-Overseas Filipino Workers and was witnessed by Regional Director Ofelia B. Domingo, CESO III (Department of Labor and Employment XII), Regional Director Marilou M. Sumalinog (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration XII), and Mr. Pobleo Allera of National Labor Relations Commission Regional Arbitration Branch XII. The launching ceremony was likewise covered by the Philippine Information Agency XII and three (3) local radio stations.

The program is the humble response of LBB Phil to a constitutional guarantee that “free access to judicial and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate free legal assistance shall not be deprived to any person by reason of poverty.” It is of our great hope that this shall be another avenue where we can effectively exercise our legal profession in relation to the growing needs of our migrant workers and their families in the field of legal relations all under the spirit of volunteerism.


LBB Philippines Free Legal Clinic


LBB Philippines Free Legal Clinic

Atty. Ben of LBB Philippines (Image from LBB Phil Facebook Page)

Atty. Ben of LBB Philippines (Image from LBB Phil Facebook Page)


By LBB Philippines

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Second Lawyers Beyond Borders Conference

10593203_10152727317539187_7302937966104189427_n 5-7 September 2014
Beirut, Lebanon

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:

  1. 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;
  2. Identify challenges in policy and national legal systems that limit or prevent migrant workers and    members of their families in accessing and reclaiming justice;
  3. Recommend ways forward in ensuring an unhindered access to justice to uphold labor rights and human rights of migrant workers and their families
  4. 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.

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Regional Workshop on Ethical Business and Recruitment Practices in Labour Migration in the Middle-East, North Africa and Asia

On 1-4 May 2014 in Dubai, the UAE, MFA held a lawyers’ caucus as a major part of the Regional Workshop on Ethical Business and Recruitment Practices in Labour Migration in the Middle-East, North Africa and Asia. This was a training program for practitioners held in partnership with Migrant Forum in Asia, the Middle East Centre for Training and Development and the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP).

Thirty-two participants from 13 countries , including 10 lawyers from countries of origin in South Asia and Southeast Asia and countries of destination in West Asia, together with social workers, members of civil society, nationaluman rights institutions and private agencies, deliberated for four days on highly significant topics:

  • The right to access remedy – for migrant workers
  • Accountability and Access to Remedy – What remedy and redress mechanisms exist – and can be accessed by migrant workers; What access to remedy is offered by OECD Guidelines – Industry Standards and Codes of Conduct and ILO Conventions, NHRIs, Courts
  • The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and beyond
  • The state and private sector – the Dhaka Principles, OECD Guidelines, Codes of Conduct, Litigation
  • The State Duty to Protect Human Rights and the Right to Remedy
  • Human Rights, Migrant Workers and Recruitment Agencies – Identifying the Gaps Between (Guiding) Principles and Practice
  • Key Challenges in monitoring and regulating recruitment in the private sector – Can the GPs/DPs/OECD Guidelines/Codes Help
  • The Corporate Responsibility to Respect – Key Challenges for the Recruitment Industry and Employers in Countries of Origin and Destination. Can the (Guiding/Dhaka) Principles Help
  • Engaging With Business on the Rights of Migrants – The Why and How – Practical Session with Advocates

The training program equipped the practitioners with approaches to further understanding ethical business and recruitment practices, related frameworks and how they affect the rights of migrant workers and members of their families. Through role-playing and breakout sessions, the lawyers and civil society (considered as paralegal workers) were able to do run-throughs of probable responses to rights violation cases.

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2nd Advisory Committee Meeting and Fact-Finding Mission to Malaysia of the Inter-Parliamentary Caucus on Labor Migration


14-16 April 2014, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We, the members of the Advisory Committee of the Asian Inter-Parliamentary Caucus on Labour Migration representing fifteen countries, met on 14-16 April in Kuala Lumpur for the 2nd Advisory Committee Meeting and Fact-Finding Mission to inquire on the situation of migrant workers in Malaysia.

We consulted the Members of Parliament, Migration Working Group, Migrant Care, Malaysian Trade Union Congress, trade unions, Bar Council Malaysia, the National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), foreign missions and migrant leaders as part of our investigation.

We identified eighteen recommendations to promote and protect the rights of migrant workers in Malaysia which also includes the quality of life of migrant workers.

We call upon the Malaysian government to take immediate steps to implement three key recommendations below:

  1. MOUs signed between the sending countries and Malaysia should be transparent and made public. Stakeholders should be consulted in the formulation of MOUs. MOUs should stipulate minimum international labour standards, social protection and best practices in the management of migrant labour.
  2. Malaysia should move forward in concluding the draft ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers. The drafting of the Instrument is a product of Article 22 of the Cebu ASEAN Declaration on the promotion and protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers which was adopted in January 2007. The current draft should be made available to stakeholders.
  3. Malaysia should consider a government to government (G2G) approach in the recruitment of migrant workers Malaysia. This would minimize recruitment cost and exploitation of migrant workers by outsourcing companies and private recruitment agencies and labour brokers. A special government-led multi-sectoral evaluation task force should be established to analyze the impact of the current outsourcing and recruitment and management of migrant workers in the country.

We are seriously concerned with the management of migrant workers in Malaysia. Our investigation shows that migrant workers in Malaysia are highly vulnerable to exploitation and violence in an environment where their rights are not protected and promoted. In addition, migrant workers continue to face violation of labour rights including discriminatory wage practices, long hours of work, no weekly rest day, hazardous working conditions, physically and sexually abusive employers and deplorable living conditions.

Our findings indicate that migrant workers continue to live in poverty in Malaysia and in some instances worse off than they were before in their country of origin.

Existing laws are not adequately enforced to protect the rights of migrant workers. There is also lack of enforcement officers to monitor and carry out enforcement.

Migrant workers access to justice is curtailed by immigration policies. Migrant workers lose their work permit when they lodge a complaint against the employer and/or when they are fired. The migrant workers are then required to apply for a special pass at a monthly fee of MYR 100 issued at the discretion of the immigration officer. During this period, migrant workers are not allowed to work resulting in loss of income and incentive to pursue the case.

It appears that Malaysia’s present approach to the management of migrant workers victimizes the migrant worker and favours the business community and the economies of sending countries and Malaysia.

We call upon the Malaysian government to exercise strong political will in restructuring the management of migrant workers to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

Download a copy of the statement and the eighteen recommendations here


Asian Parliamentary Caucus on Labour Migration

The Asian Inter-Parliamentary Caucus on Labor Migration was formalized in 2011 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, through a resolution of the assembled MPs that aimed to foster collaboration and encourage a pro?active role for parliamentarians in advancing the rights and welfare of migrant workers across Asia. Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) was designated as the Secretariat that would act as the primary coordinating body for the Caucus. Since 2007, Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) and network partners, have been facilitating a parliamentarians program aimed at identifying the role for parliamentarians on the issues of labor migration and migrants’ rights, enhancing participation of MPs in that role, and identifying key issue areas to take on. For more information on the caucus please check the website: