Respect for migrant workers’rights

Migrants are often particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation because they are outside the legal protection of their home countries. While migration is a positive and rewarding experience for many migrant workers, a significant number face serious violations of their human rights, which can occur at each stage of their journey. This can include ill-treatment by immigration or law enforcement authorities, abusive or exploitative working conditions, an absence of basic workplace rights and protections, limited access to social security, systemic discrimination and wide-spread xenophobia and prejudice.

Migrants in an irregular situation can live and work at the very margins of basic protections and safety. In some cases, especially involving individuals who have been trafficked across borders, the working conditions they experience can amount to forced labour.

There are different categories of migrants:

  • An irregular migrant can be defined as a person who lacks legal status in a transit or host country; one who entered a state without authorization, or entered a country legally but then lost permission to remain.
  • Individuals may also be trafficked across borders, having been coerced to travel to another country for the purpose of exploitation.
  • In addition, individuals can be smuggled across borders, travelling to another country voluntarily, but illegally, with the assistance of a third party who receives some form of benefit for this assistance.
  • Individuals fleeing persecution in their home country may seek asylum in another country, under the grounds provided in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Those whose claims for asylum are accepted are granted refugee status, which generally brings with it certain rights and entitlements to protection under international law.

Monitoring this benchmark gives an indication of migrant workers situation and helps asses the steps to end abuse and exploitation of migrants in this region.

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