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VIII. Recommendations

To the Governments of Indonesia and Malaysia

  • Enact legislation to protect migrant workers, including domestic workers, and amend existing employment and immigration laws to provide equal protection to domestic workers.

    o The Indonesian government should enact the proposed law on the protection of migrant workers after revising it so that it fully protects their human rights.  The president should prevent any further delay by assigning a ministry to discuss the bill in parliament.  Regional governments should also enact similar legislation. 

    o The Malaysian government should amend the Employment Act of 1955, the Workmen’s Compensation Act, and other labor laws to include full and equal labor protections for domestic workers, including regulations on hours of work, rest days, and compensation for workplace injuries and occupational illnesses. 

    o The Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs should eliminate the fee for a “special pass” and revise immigration policies to permit migrant workers to find employment if waiting in Malaysia for the completion of an investigation or complaint with the Labor Department, or prosecution of a criminal case.

  • Adopt a bilateral labor agreement that protects domestic workers’ rights.

    o Establish recruitment, training, and placement policies that protect fully domestic workers’ human rights.  Develop a mechanism for monitoring these processes, including workers’ transit to and from Malaysia.

    o Include provisions for a standard contract.  The contract should clearly define work responsibilities and include regulations on hours of work, rest days, regular payment of wages, and compensation for injuries.

    o Protect migrant domestic workers’ freedom of association, freedom of movement, right to health, and other human rights protections. 

    o Ensure that migrant domestic workers are entitled to protections outlined in other MoUs on migrant workers, including the one signed on May 10, 2004.

  • Regulate and monitor rigorously the practices of labor agencies.  Impose substantial penalties on labor agencies and agents who violate these regulations.

    o The Indonesian Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration and the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources should establish mechanisms for regular and independent monitoring of labor agencies to ensure their compliance with regulations on recruitment, training, travel, work placements, and termination of contracts. 

    o The Indonesian Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, the Department of Immigration, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should streamline and simplify recruiting and training procedures for migrant domestic workers to avoid opportunities for corruption and deception.  They should improve payment structures and mechanisms for accountability at the field level to reduce incentives for local sponsors to extort money from potential migrants.  They should enforce time limits on waiting periods for job placement and eliminate all placement fees.

    o The Indonesian Department of Immigration should improve anti-corruption measures to help prevent alteration of passports, visas, and other travel documents.

    o Indonesia’s Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration should adopt improved regulations for labor recruiters and migrant worker training centers that more clearly delineate minimum health and safety conditions, protect women workers’ freedom of movement, outline standards for treatment of trainees, and create effective mechanisms to enforce the regulations. 

  • Inspect workplace and detention conditions and create accessible complaint mechanisms for migrant domestic workers who suffer abuse.  Provide redress for these workers and penalize labor agents, employers, and government officials who perpetrate abuses.

    o The Labor Department of the Ministry of Human Resources should develop mechanisms for regular monitoring of workplace conditions.

    o In Malaysia, the Labor Department of the Ministry of Human Resources, and the Department of Immigration and the Royal Malaysian Police in the Ministry of Home Affairs, should establish complaint mechanisms that are accessible to migrant domestic workers. 

    o The Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs should implement training programs for police officers and immigration officials to identify trafficking victims and domestic workers who have experienced abuse.  The police should have a protocol for handling cases of abuse including immediate health care and social service referrals.

    o The Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs should allow independent and regular inspections of immigration detention centers and visits to migrant workers in custody.  They should ensure that conditions meet international standards on the treatment of prisoners.

    o The Malaysian and Indonesian governments should prosecute labor agents who violate the rights of domestic workers according to national laws.  They should also provide civil remedies, including monetary damages, that migrant domestic workers can pursue against labor agents.

  • Provide support services for migrant domestic workers and strengthen the capacity of NGOs to assist domestic workers. 

    o The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia should provide resources for support services, including legal aid, health care, shelter, job training, psychological counseling, and reintegration programs. 

    o The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia should work cooperatively with NGOs in both Indonesia and Malaysia to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers, including through establishing regular consultations and by providing funding. 

    o The Malaysian Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Human Resources, and the Department of Immigration should coordinate to establish programs and policies that make health care accessible to women migrant domestic workers.  The Indonesian and Malaysian governments should ensure that women migrant workers have access to treatment and care as well as insurance coverage both for accidents and medical care including hospitalization. 

    o The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with other relevant ministries, should establish expanded and higher-quality victim services at consulates and embassies in Malaysia.  It should strengthen their monitoring capacities.

    o The government of Malaysia should refrain from punitive prosecutions of labor rights activists and issue a pardon for the unjust conviction of Irene Fernandez for publishing a report on conditions in immigration detention centers.

  • Disseminate information on domestic workers’ rights and the obligations of labor agents, employers, and governments.

    o The Indonesian Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration should create and widely disseminate a guide for domestic workers about their rights.

    o The Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources should provide an orientation to migrant domestic workers upon arrival in Malaysia, as currently required for other migrant workers.  These orientations should include information about workers’ rights and how to contact assistance. 

    o The Ministry of Human Resources should publish a guide for employers about the treatment of domestic workers and provide trainings to educate employers about their legal responsibilities.

  • Improve and coordinate efforts to prevent and respond to trafficking.

    o Train the Indonesian and Malaysian police to identify trafficking victims, especially when arresting and detaining individuals for violations of the Immigration Act.  Create protocols for referrals for health care, legal aid, counseling, and other support services.

    o The Indonesian and Malaysian governments should investigate trafficking cases and prosecute traffickers to the full extent of the law.  They should investigate trafficking into all forms of forced labor, including forced domestic work.

    o The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia should enact anti-trafficking legislation.  The Indonesian president should prevent any further delay by appointing a ministry to discuss the existing draft anti-trafficking legislation in parliament.  The Malaysian government should adopt specific anti-trafficking legislation instead of using provisions in the Internal Security Act.

    o In Indonesia, the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment, and the Ministry of Education, among others, should conduct campaigns to raise awareness about trafficking, especially among prospective migrant workers.

  • Sign and ratify international human rights treaties.  Comply with treaty-body reporting requirements.

    o The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia should ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (United Nations Trafficking Protocol); and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (Migrant Workers Convention).

    o Indonesia and Malaysia should submit their overdue reports to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee.  Malaysia should submit its overdue reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

    To the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

  • Create a working group to study regional labor migration and propose solutions, including multilateral agreements on labor standards and protections for migrant domestic workers. 

  • Establish a regional human rights mechanism that could address the protection of human rights, labor migration, and trafficking in persons in the region.

    To International Donors (United Nations, World Bank, European Union, United States, Japan)

  • International donors should:

    o Provide resources for support services, including legal aid, health care, shelter, job training, and psychological counseling.

    o Provide resources for strengthening the capacity of research and advocacy organizations working on behalf of migrant workers, especially those focusing on female domestic workers.

    o Raise attention to the abuses faced by migrant domestic workers in bilateral and multilateral meetings with the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia.  Press for the reforms recommended above.

  • The Global Commission on International Migration should address in detail the situation of migrant domestic workers in its research, consultations, and recommendations.

  • The International Labor Organization (ILO) should ensure substantial attention to domestic workers when implementing its plan of action on migrant workers adopted in June 2004.  The ILO should also create model bilateral labor agreements and model standard contracts for domestic workers to aid governments undertaking reforms.

    <<previous  |  index  |  next>>July 2004