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Argument: Migrants are one of the most vulnerable groups globally

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Professor Dr Tasneem Siddiqui said to the Bangladesh Daily Star in 2009: "In 1929, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) identified the migrant workers as the most vulnerable group in the world. Seventy years have elapsed since then, but they still belong to that group."[1]

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in May of 2010: "Migrants can face harsh living conditions, discrimination and low wages. They often lack safety nets, and suffer disproportionately in times of economic hardship. Unemployment can push many to the bottom rung of societies. Children of migrants can face a number of emotional and economic challenges unique to their circumstances, in particular a greater vulnerability to human trafficking, child labour and violence."[2]

Turki Al-Dakheel. "Torturing housemaids." Arab News. April 13th, 2010: "DO we consider the housemaid to be a human being? Or is she just a machine like a washing machine and a refrigerator? Some of us, because of excessive laziness and a disdain of doing what we consider easy jobs, cannot do without a housemaid even if there are no children in the house.

The housemaid in this case will be used as something to brag about. She will drag herself behind the husband and wife carrying the shopping bags. This has become the typical picture of a Saudi family, whether large or small. Ostentatiousness is a disease eating away at our society. The main purpose of hiring a housemaid is so the wife can boast of having a servant who blindly obeys her orders.

The poor housemaid may not be paid her salary for months. Her passport will be locked away from her. She will be forced to sleep in a room even dogs would shy from. She may constantly lose her precious things.

Is this not a frightening brutality? The bad treatment of housemaids is totally against human rights and international norms."

Hanny Megally, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch said in 2003: "Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states have a special responsibility to participate in all international efforts to guarantee rights and justice for this vulnerable population. Becoming parties to the migrant rights convention will signal the GCC’s willingness to help address a serious worldwide problem.”[3]

"Saudi Arabia/GCC States: Ratify Migrant Rights Treaty." Human Rights Watch. April 10th, 2003: "The convention guarantees basic human rights to all migrants, including the rights to life, due process, fair trials, and freedom of expression and religion, as well as equal treatment with nationals in respect to economic and social rights. Its provisions also address the following key problems found in the GCC states:

Intimidation and violence Migrants, including large numbers of women employed as domestic servants, face intimidation and violence at the hands of employers, supervisors, sponsors, and police and security forces. Intimidated by violence or the threat of it, workers are often afraid to demand unpaid wages, protest poor conditions, or seek legal recourse for abuses. Article

16(2) of the convention guarantees to migrants and their families “effective protection by the State against violence, physical injury, threats and intimidation, whether by public officials or by private individuals, groups or institutions.”

Restrictions on freedom of movement Sponsors and employers continue to confiscate migrants’ documents, including passports and residence permits. This severely restricts freedom of movement and limits migrants’ ability to report mistreatment to authorities without risking arrest, imprisonment, and steep fines. Article 21 of the convention prohibits anyone other than a duly authorized public official from confiscating such vital documents, and requires that migrant workers receive detailed receipts when their documents are legally confiscated.

Migrants in the GCC states typically cannot obtain an exit visa to leave the country of employment without the approval of their sponsor or employer; arbitrary denials of exit visas can place migrants in situations that amount to forced labor. Article 8 of the convention reaffirms the right of migrant workers and their families to leave any state.

Trafficking and forced labor Migrants in undocumented or “irregular” situations are among the most vulnerable. Recruiters in their home countries traffic migrants en masse, promising them jobs and salaries that never materialize. These workers have often paid recruiters significant sums to secure what they believed were legally enforceable contracts and work visas. Deeply in debt and with no other options once they arrive, they have little choice but to work for local sponsors or employers under highly exploitative conditions that effectively amount to forced labor or servitude."

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