The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, visited Sri Lanka from 19 to 26 May 2014 to assess the human rights situation of Sri Lankans migrating abroad for work, and the related recruitment practices. During Mr. Crépeau’s eight-day mission to the country, he met with regional members of the Action Network for Migrant Workers (ACTFORM) and the Women and Media Collective (WMC) on the 23rd of May 2014 at the Women and Media Collective office in Colombo to discuss how to better protect the human rights of migrants.
The ACTFORM and the WMC presented a report to the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, highlighting the following key areas of concern for Sri Lankan migrant workers:
• Lack of bilateral agreements between the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and migrant labour receiving countries.
• Receiving countries are not signatories to key UN/ILO conventions that are binding to ensure the rights of migrant workers.
• Restrictions posed on migrant women with children under five years of age. This deprives women from travelling for overseas employment without the government offering any alternative options for work with similar wages.
• Lack of adequate services for migrant workers in receiving countries and insufficient support at the respective Sri Lankan missions.
• Reintegration services are insufficient for returnee migrant women.
• Insufficient period for insurance claims. The seven day period for claiming insurance is insufficient for returnee migrant workers due to lack of knowledge, distance from the SLBFE and poor support services.
• Lack of clarity on the main institutional responsibilities of service providers at the district, provincial and national level.
• Policy reform to make it compulsory for the migrant worker to receive a copy of the employment agreement in their own language.
• Migrant workers lack awareness on the services available to them especially at district level.
• Lack of positive media time for men/fathers who bear familial responsibility and provide childcare.
• No voting rights for migrant
• Lack of an adequate government data-base on migrant workers
This is the first mission to Sri Lanka by an independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council with monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation of migrants around the world. The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report of the visit to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015.