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Indonesia ratifies convention on migrant workers

Bangkok Post - April 12, 2012. "Indonesia's parliament ratified Thursday a UN convention on the protection of migrant workers in a move that will offer greater rights to millions of Indonesians working abroad."

""The next step is to align national legislation with the standards already set," lawmaker Rieke Diah Pitaloka said in a statement.

Indonesia had in 2004 signed but not ratified the UN's 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Ratification obliges countries to ensure workers' basic human rights, as well as the right to return to their home countries, the right to be informed of conditions before taking up employment, and the right to form trade unions.

Indonesia's foreign ministry estimates that at least three million Indonesians work abroad, but poor documentation suggests the true number is likely much higher.

Indonesian migrant workers are typically maids in neighbouring Asian countries or in the Middle East, where domestic workers often have little legal protection.

The government placed a moratorium on sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia last year after an Indonesian maid was beheaded after being convicted of killing her Saudi employer.

Saudi Arabia last week allowed 22 Indonesian maids on death row to be repatriated, while 25 still face execution there.

Indonesia in December lifted a 2009 ban on sending maids to Malaysia, imposed after a rash of abuse cases were reported in the country, where around 300,000 Indonesian maids had worked.

Indonesian organisation Migrant Care welcomed parliament's ratification as "an extremely positive development".

"The government has now taken an important step toward the comprehensive changes that could really make a difference in migrants' lives, and the challenge for them will be to follow through on the commitments they are making today," Migrant Care executive director Anis Hidayah said in a statement.

Hidayah said migrant workers were often "cheated by recruiters, exploited by employers, and neglected by the government authorities who are supposed to protect them"."

Read the story in BANGKOK POST


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