National Consultation on Promoting Fair and Ethical Recruitment Between Cambodia-Thailand Labour Migration Corridor
Phnom Penh, 02 November 2021 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MOLVT) and the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), organized the National Consultation on Promoting Fair and Ethical Recruitment of migrant workers. The consultation was supported by the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process.
More than 80 participants representing the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), private sector, civil society and workers’ organizations participated in the online meeting. The discussion focused on national legislation framework and international standards in Cambodia to Thailand migration corridor. Recommendations and practical solutions how to promote fair and ethical recruitment in Cambodia were put forward and will be considered by MOLVT for implementation on a policy level.
Ms. Kristin Parco, Chief of Mission for the International Organization for Migration in Cambodia stressed that public-private cooperation between governments, civil society and businesses at national, regional and international levels is essential to eradicating human trafficking, forced labour and modern slavery in international supply chains, from apparel manufacturing to food, and from agriculture to construction.
“The National Consultation was very timely because migrant workers face additional challenges posed by COVID-19. The rich discussions identified progress on policies and regulations for promoting fair and ethical recruitment of migrant workers. Nonetheless, participants highlighted the importance of accelerating implementation. UNDP together with other UN entities will continue to work with the Government, the private sector and civil society organizations to facilitate the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This is surely an ethical issue, but also a sound business decision in a globalized economy,” said Ms. Alissar Chaker, UNDP Cambodia Resident Representative.
International labour mobility is a defining feature of the global economy, with growing numbers of job seekers looking beyond local and national boundaries for employment and livelihood opportunities. The participants agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic made fair and ethical recruitment of migrant workers even more important in the context of re-opening the borders to resume cross-border recruitment and increased risks of labour exploitation. The quarantine requirements and costly COVID-19 testing that migrant workers may be required to undergo before coming to Thailand in the future makes promoting fair and ethical recruitment crucial.
Cambodia, together with other countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion, is committed to promoting safe migration through bilateral agreements or Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) that provide regular migration channels for migrant workers. Efforts to address risks facing migrants are also visible through Cambodia’s membership in the Bali Process. While these efforts are a step in the right direction, gaps remain in enforcement, monitoring and compliance with existing national legislation and frameworks that continue putting migrant workers at risk of forced labour and trafficking, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic unravels. Migrants and informal workers remain at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and suffering from its socio-economic fallout, while border closures and lockdowns leave many vulnerable to exploitation. Furthermore, migrant workers might bear higher cost during the recruitment process such as the cost for COVID-19 test and quarantine facilities. Over 250,000 Cambodian migrant workers have already returned to Cambodia since the beginning of COVID-19.
The inputs from this consultation will also inform the upcoming bilateral consultation meeting between Cambodia and Thailand on fostering joint effort to promote fair and ethical recruitment and inform IOM’s technical support to RGC.
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 Since its inception in 2002, the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime (Bali Process) has effectively raised regional awareness of the consequences of people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime. It is a forum for policy dialogue, information sharing and practical cooperation to help the region address these challenges. More information can be found at https://www.baliprocess.net/regional-support-office/