Report: South Asia Judicial Barometer
11 May 2021 4:30 pm

The effective legal protection of migrant workers has emerged as a policy priority having substantial social, political and economic implications in South Asia. Labour migration has continued to advance over time, and the challenges that emerged have increased in complexity.

Looking at the changing context around the issues of migrant workers, new approaches are needed. These approaches should ensure the advancement of a fair migration agenda and appropriate addressing of the wellbeing of migrant workers along with legal reform that would respond fairly to the interests of countries of destination and origin, to employers, and the employee.

Efficient judicial measures must be grounded in research. For this, evidence-based research on migrant workers in South Asia is of paramount importance. This priority has been frequently discussed at the national, regional and global levels in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and Global Compact for Safe, Regular and
Orderly Migration.

Further, the need for research with specifically improved data was tinted in the meeting on labour migration at the 106th Session of the International Labour Conference in 2017, in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Plan of Action of Labour Migration, in the Bali Declaration adopted at the 16th ILO Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting in 2016.

This research report, the South Asia Judicial Barometer, is a vital step in this direction. The report highlights the common thread that intertwines the embroidery of South Asian migration experiences and ties the fates of migrant workers especially on their commodification, understanding the push-pull factors driving migrant workers, lack of laws to protect rights of migrant workers, labyrinths of law and failures to implement existing laws, situation of women migrant workers, access to justice, role of judiciary in South Asia in protecting the rights of migrant workers, re-orienting national perspectives and responses, and migrant workers future after COVID-19 pandemic.

While readers would be able to look at comparative migration developments, access to justice and legal provisions, it should be noted that comparing legal provisions between countries remains a challenge because of the different political, social, economic policies and practices at national level.

FORUM-ASIA hopes that the report will invite national, sub-regional, regional and international discourse on labour migration policies and programmes in countries of origin and receiving countries for migrant workers. We hope that this report suggests future legal cooperation on addressing the issues of migrant workers to enable migrant workers to enjoy decent, dignified and respected working conditions as per the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

We have been privileged to collaborate with the Law and Society Trust (LST) in Sri Lanka on this endeavor and would like to express our gratitude to all colleagues at LST who have worked hard to produce this report. We are delighted that, LST, as an active member of FORUM-ASIA, has collaborated to strengthen the advocacy and campaign efforts for decent and safe working conditions for migrant workers’ rights in South Asia.

As an umbrella organisation, FORUM-ASIA is humbled to be at the forefront of advocacy towards strengthening the rights of migrant workers, with governments, international institutions and National Human Rights Institutions. With the publication of this research, it is equally important for us to entrust ourselves for the effective advocacy for the strengthening of independent judiciaries, access to justice for migrant workers, and transparent and accountable governance in order to ensure human rights for migrant workers.

Please click here to download the report.