So­cial ac­tivist sub­mits memo to CM of Ker­ala, In­dia

Kuwait Times - - WHAT’S ON -

Renowned so­cial ac­tivist among the In­dian ex­pa­tri­ate com­mu­nity in the Mid­dle East Thomas Mathew Ka­davil re­cently vis­ited the Chief Min­is­ter of Ker­ala State, Pi­narayi Vi­jayan, and sub­mit­ted a mem­o­ran­dum seek­ing his ur­gent in­ter­ven­tion to bring the In­dian Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­istry’s at­ten­tion to pro­tect the rights and wel­fare of the In­dian mi­grants dur­ing the in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal dis­cus­sions on a Global Com­pact on Mi­gra­tion, for safe, or­derly and reg­u­lar mi­gra­tion, which is slated to take place at the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly next Septem­ber.

As the Union Govern­ment of In­dia, the right­ful con­sti­tu­tional author­ity on mi­gra­tion and Non Res­i­dent In­di­ans, had been tak­ing a cold­hearted at­ti­tude to­wards the Global Com­pact on Mi­gra­tion (GCM) which would be detri­men­tal to pro­tect the in­ter­est of In­dian mi­grants at a time when many na­tional gov­ern­ments and re­gional group­ings are mak­ing se­ri­ous con­sul­ta­tions with var­i­ous stake hold­ers to take a con­sen­sus po­si­tion in the UN, Thomas Mathew Ka­davil pointed out to the Chief Min­is­ter.

The Global Com­pact will be­come a Magna Carta of the im­mi­grants the world over and it is im­per­a­tive and oblig­a­tory that the In­dian Govern­ment should rise to the oc­ca­sion to pro­tect the rights and wel­fare of the In­dian mi­grants by bring­ing in the most needed el­e­ments into the global com­pact, Ka­davil ex­plained to the Chief Min­is­ter. He lauded the Ker­ala govern­ment for the in­tro­duc­tion of many wel­fare mea­sures for the safe repa­tri­a­tion and rein­te­gra­tion of the mi­grant re­turnees, but pointed out the need for en­sur­ing the wel­fare of the im­mi­grants at their coun­tries of des­ti­na­tions.

The very ba­sic el­e­ment of the GCM should fo­cus on im­ple­ment­ing, not sim­ply re­stat­ing, the hith­erto ac­cepted UN and ILO con­ven­tions and treaties, mul­ti­lat­eral com­mit­ments to mi­grants hu­man rights, to la­bor rights, that are signed and bind­ing, and ap­ply to mi­grants across the board. The GCM and na­tional plans should in­clude goals, time­lines, and means for im­ple­men­ta­tion that are am­bi­tious, achiev­able, and ac­count­able.

The mem­o­ran­dum points out yet an­other im­por­tant el­e­ment of the GCM is that it should ad­dress the ur­gent need for eth­i­cal re­cruit­ment, de­cent jobs and la­bor mo­bil­ity with the pro­tec­tion of the la­bor rights of mi­grants. Re­cruit­ment fees should be borne by the em­ployer, not the mi­grant worker. To end the large scale ex­ploita­tion, mi­grant worker visas or res­i­dency per­mits should never be tied to one em­ployer. There can be no ques­tion about the rights of work­ers to join and form trade unions and work­ers or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Much more in­vest­ments are needed in de­cent work and jobs at home and abroad, as well as more ef­forts to har­mo­nize qual­i­fi­ca­tions and in­vest in skills and train­ing for ex­am­ple through vo­ca­tional part­ner­ships. Reg­u­lar­iza­tion and reg­u­lar path­ways for hu­man mo­bil­ity across the plank should be core to the drive for im­ple­men­ta­tion and thus for the GCM should be the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of hu­man mo­bil­ity with hu­man rights for all. More and bet­ter reg­u­lar path­ways for refugees and mi­grants need to be cre­ated, in­clud­ing in­creases in re­set­tle­ment places, hu­man­i­tar­ian visa, pri­vate spon­sor­ship pro­grams, fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion, stu­dent visa, la­bor mo­bil­ity and match­ing at all skill lev­els.

Such reg­u­lar path­ways re­duce the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of mi­grants and refugees at the ori­gin, in tran­sit and at the des­ti­na­tion. The GCM should de­velop prin­ci­ples on reg­u­lar­iza­tion - a path­way to se­cure res­i­dency af­ter hav­ing lived in the coun­try of im­mi­gra­tion for a cer­tain num­ber of years, in the in­ter­est of so­cial co­he­sion and lifts peo­ple out of vul­ner­a­ble and ex­ploita­tive sit­u­a­tions. Porta­bil­ity of salary, so­cial se­cu­rity ben­e­fits, in­dem­ni­ties, pen­sions etc should be given to the mi­grant worker with­out any hin­drance both from the des­ti­na­tion coun­tries and the em­ploy­ers.

On mi­grant women, the mem­o­ran­dum urges for their pro­tec­tion and em­pha­sized that “women are not by na­ture vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion” in need of res­cue but too of­ten find them­selves in vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tions due to (mi­gra­tion) poli­cies, val­ues and the de­nial of rights. Hence the mem­o­ran­dum urges upon all na­tional gov­ern­ments that they should draw from the UN rec­om­men­da­tions on ad­dress­ing the hu­man rights of women in the Global Com­pact on Mi­gra­tion.

The Global Com­pact on Mi­gra­tion should not be­come a Global Com­pact for De­por­ta­tion. Un­am­bigu­ous and clear prin­ci­ples and pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tions re­lated to the cir­cu­lar or eco­nomic mi­grants re­turn and rein­te­gra­tion with their so­ci­eties should be laid out. The vol­un­tary re­turn should be tailor-made and con­text spe­cific, and in­volve a process with true choices, in­clud­ing choos­ing the moment of re­turn. There should be no de­por­ta­tion of chil­dren in no cir­cum­stances and they should not be sep­a­rated from their fam­i­lies.

Poli­cies are needed that put an end to the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of mi­grants, and those who help them. Mi­grants need to im­ple­ment prac­ti­cal, avail­able al­ter­na­tives to de­ten­tion. Cit­i­zens and or­ga­ni­za­tions that help un­doc­u­mented mi­grants in need should be ad­mired and pro­tected, not crim­i­nal­ized. The GCM and na­tional poli­cies should in­clude the con­cept of ‘fire­walls’ that al­low all mi­grants, re­gard­less of sta­tus, to ac­cess justice, es­sen­tial ser­vices, and com­plaint mech­a­nisms with­out fear that will re­sult in their de­ten­tion or de­por­ta­tion on the ba­sis of their mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

Mi­grants them­selves should be mean­ing­fully en­gaged through con­sul­ta­tion and de­ci­sion­mak­ing pro­cesses. To change the nar­ra­tive and per­cep­tions on mi­gra­tion, the mi­grant’s voices need to be up­lifted and au­di­ble. Civil so­ci­ety has an im­por­tant role to play in mo­bi­liz­ing peo­ple and wider sol­i­dar­ity move­ments on the ground to stand firm against xeno­pho­bia and dis­crim­i­na­tion, and for equal­ity, justice, and dig­nity for all.

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