Saturday, 18 May, 2024


UN experts sound alarm over plight of duped Bangladeshi migrants

News Desk |
Update: 2024-04-19 17:05:13
UN experts sound alarm over plight of duped Bangladeshi migrants In February, FMT reported that more than 100 Bangladeshi migrant workers were found living in cramped conditions in Cheras after they were tricked into coming to Malaysia for non-existent jobs. [File Photo; Collected]

A group of United Nations experts has called on Malaysia to do more to protect Bangladeshi migrant workers from being exploited into coming to Malaysia for non-existent jobs.

In a statement to FMT, the UN Human Rights Council-appointed experts said they were dismayed at reports about Bangladeshi migrants who travelled to Malaysia after being promised employment, only to find out they had been duped.

They also expressed concern that large amounts of money are being generated through the fraudulent recruitment of migrant workers by criminal networks operating between Malaysia and Bangladesh.

The experts said migrants were being deceived as they were recruited by fake companies, and were obliged to pay exorbitant recruitment fees which pushed them into debt bondage.

They noted that many migrants find on arrival in Malaysia that they do not have employment as promised, and are often forced into overstaying their visas, which results in them risking arrest, detention, ill-treatment and deportation.

“The situation of Bangladeshi migrants who have lived in Malaysia for several months or longer (without jobs) is unsustainable and undignified,” the statement said.

“Malaysia needs to take urgent measures to address the dire humanitarian situation of migrants and protect them from exploitation, criminalisation and other human rights abuses.

“We received reports that certain high-level officials in both governments are involved in this business or condoning it. This is unacceptable and needs to end.

“Perpetrators of these exploitative recruitments must be held accountable.”

The experts said the action taken against these private businesses and fraudulent recruitment companies in Malaysia and Bangladesh so far has been “wholly insufficient”.

The statement was issued by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Slavery, Tomoya Obokata; the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Siobhan Mullally; the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Gehad Madi; and other experts.

Stating that some migrants have faced severe reprisals for reporting the exploitation suffered, they urged Malaysia to handle labour migration more effectively by adopting adequate safeguards.

They said Malaysia must fulfil its obligations under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, under which it has to protect migrant workers against human rights abuses by businesses operating in the country and ensure that these businesses respect human rights.

The experts also said Malaysia must step up efforts to identify, protect and assist victims of exploitation, enforce existing legal protections against trafficking in persons, and uphold the country’s international human rights obligations.

They said they have previously engaged with the Malaysian and Bangladeshi governments on these issues.

Last October, migrant rights activist Andy Hall referred the country’s poor response to the plight of these Bangladeshi workers to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), a body under the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Describing the workers’ situation as “dire”, he provided details of their poor living conditions, including cramped quarters, poor sanitation, and limited food, and how they became indebted due to exorbitant recruitment costs.

Hall had also sent the documented complaints to the UN special rapporteurs on slavery, trafficking, migrants, and poverty; the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and Pia Oberoi, the senior adviser on migration and human rights for Asia Pacific.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

BDST: 1705 HRS, APR 19, 2024

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