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The role of ASEAN labour attachés in the protection of migrant workers

— theme: Rights and protection of migrants
— country: ASEAN

According to the World Bank the stock of international migrants has been estimated at 247 million in 2013 and it is expected to surpass 250 million in 2015.1 The number of international migrants in ASEAN has tripled since 1990 to 9.4 million, of which 6.5 million actually come from within ASEAN.2 While for most workers migration is a positive experience, a significant number of migrant workers, particularly those in low-skilled sectors, may suffer from exploitation at workplace, for example underpayment, forced to take dangerous jobs with unsafe working conditions, withholding of salary, illegal salary deductions, contract substitution, and lack of freedom of movement and association, amongst others. While there are continuing efforts from both sending and receiving countries to protect migrant workers, improved systems and interventions that provide protections for migrant workers are urgently required. One means by which migrant sending states can enhance the protection of their nationals working abroad is the appointment and deployment of labour attachés. These officials are usually appointed by the Ministry of Labour (or equivalent) and are part of the diplomatic mission abroad.

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