UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk to Address Migrant Worker Issues During Malaysia Visit

Last Updated on June 2, 2024 11:14 am

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, is set to embark on a significant visit to Malaysia, as part of a broader tour that includes the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) and a brief stop in Thailand. Türk’s visit aims to tackle pressing issues concerning migrant workers and human rights defenders, with a particular focus on the labor rights of foreign workers from various countries, including Bangladesh.

During his stay in Malaysia, Türk is scheduled to engage in high-level discussions with senior government officials in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, including a meeting with the Malaysian Prime Minister. This visit, announced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Friday, underscores the UN’s commitment to addressing human rights concerns in the region.

In addition to government officials, Türk will meet with representatives from the national human rights institution, SUHAKAM, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, and various civil society organizations. These meetings will also include dialogues with human rights defenders, lawyers’ groups, migrants and refugees, and members of the international community, aiming to gain a comprehensive understanding of the human rights landscape in Malaysia.

Spotlight on Migrant Workers

A key focus of Türk’s visit will be the labor rights situation of vulnerable foreign workers from 14 source countries, including Bangladesh. According to sources in Kuala Lumpur, various briefings have been provided to Türk regarding the recent joblessness and exploitation of migrant workers in Malaysia.

In April, several UN experts expressed their concern about the plight of Bangladeshi migrants who traveled to Malaysia seeking employment through official channels. Despite their aspirations, many have faced significant hardships, including joblessness and inadequate protection of their rights.

The situation has been further complicated by logistical issues. Bangladesh’s Expatriate Welfare Ministry Secretary, Md Ruhul Amin, acknowledged that the UN’s concerns are under review and that both Malaysia and Bangladesh will respond to the statements made about them. Despite an agreement under which Bangladesh was to send 500,000 workers to Malaysia by April this year, sector insiders reported that at least 10,000 Bangladeshi workers were unable to travel due to delays caused by recruiting agencies.

Broader Human Rights Dialogue

Türk’s visit also aims to strengthen dialogue on broader human rights issues within Malaysia. By meeting with a diverse array of stakeholders, the High Commissioner seeks to address systemic issues and support ongoing efforts to improve the human rights situation for all, particularly marginalized and vulnerable groups.

The visit is expected to foster greater cooperation between the Malaysian government, civil society, and the international community in promoting and protecting human rights. Türk’s engagement with various groups reflects a holistic approach, ensuring that the voices of those directly affected by human rights issues are heard and addressed.

As the High Commissioner continues his tour, the outcomes of his discussions in Malaysia are anticipated to contribute significantly to the ongoing discourse on human rights and labor rights in the region. The international community will be watching closely to see how these dialogues translate into concrete actions and improvements for migrant workers and other vulnerable populations in Malaysia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *