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India Refuses to Celebrate International Migrants Day

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, December 18, 2008 | 1:17 AM

On an average 450,000 Indians go abroad annually for employment. The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families entered into force on July 1, 2003. India has not ratified this treaty so far. This UN treaty defines the term ‘migrant worker’ as “a person who is to be engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national.”

The Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) monitors implementation of the convention, and is one of the seven UN-linked Human rights treaty bodies.

These seven bodies are as under:

1)The Human Rights Committee promotes participation with the standards of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a a United Nations treaty based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that entered into force on March 23, 1976.

2)The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and entered into force from January 3, 1976.

3)The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination monitors the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

4)The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women monitors the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

5)The Committee Against Torture monitors the United Nations Convention Against Torture and receives states' reports on their performance every four years and comments on them. It may visit and inspect individual countries with their consent.

6)The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the Convention on the Rights of the Child and makes comments on reports submitted by states every five years. It does not have the power to receive complaints.

7)The Committee on Migrant Workers was established in 2004 and monitors the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW) and makes comments on reports submitted by states every five years. It will have the power to receive complaints of specific violations only once ten member states allow it.

In 2005, the number of international migrants was between 185 and 192 million. This represents approximately three per cent of the world population, and is comparable to the population of Brazil.

The Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families constitutes a comprehensive international treaty regarding the protection of migrant workers’ rights. It emphasizes the connection between migration and human rights, which is increasingly becoming a crucial policy topic worldwide. The Convention aims at protecting migrant workers and members of their families; its existence sets a moral standard, and serves as a guide and stimulus for the promotion of migrant rights in each country.

The primary objective of this UN treaty is to foster respect for migrants’ human rights. Migrants are not only workers, they are also human beings. It does not create new rights for migrants but aims at guaranteeing equality of treatment, and the same working conditions for migrants and nationals.

It that legal migrants have the legitimacy to claim more rights than undocumented migrants, but it stresses that undocumented migrants must see their fundamental human rights respected, like all human beings.

This treaty proposes that actions be taken to eradicate clandestine movements, notably through the fight against misleading information inciting people to migrate irregularly, and through sanctions against traffickers and employers of undocumented migrants.

Indian government's callousness towards workers gets illustrated even by the fact that it has not ratified most of the ILO Conventions with regard to Occupation Health in general and Occupational Cancer in particular.

In December 2000, the General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December International Migrants Day. On that day, in 1990, the Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

The UPA government can make a beginning by doing the needful for the migrant workers who go abroad. Having said that it must be remembered that the condition of migrant workers within Indian states is really bad. The recent violence in Assam, Maharashtra and the plight of workers in Alang, Gujarat is a case in point.
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