Safe Migration Reducing Human Trafficking

Jhabindra Bhandari


Migration is now a global phenomenon. This is increasingly becoming a priority for international community as the rise in global mobility and the growing complexity of migratory patterns have profound impacts on migrants and their families. Therefore, it has now been clear that the indicators chosen to measure safe migration should ideally monitor the safety of migrants throughout all stages of the migration process.
For the first time, it is interesting to note that migration is included in the global development framework. More importantly, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which sets the development priorities to be achieved by 2030, contains a target specifically dedicated to migration under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). The target 10.7 in the framework calls for all countries to implement policies that “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”.

Global governance
In this context, Global Compact on Migration (GCM) primarily intends to address all aspects of international migration, including the humanitarian, developmental, human rights-related and other aspects; make an important contribution to global governance and enhance coordination on international migration; present a framework for comprehensive international cooperation on migrants and human mobility; set out a range of actionable commitments, means of implementation and a framework for follow-up.
Towards this end, Ministry of Labour and Employment in coordination with Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently convened multi-stakeholder consultation to identify country-specific challenges and priority issues associated with migration. The protection and promotion of migrants’ rights, key drivers of migration, smuggling of migrants and trafficking, remittance, diaspora engagement, and regular pathways to safe migration have been identified as key priority actions for multi-sector response. This will significantly contribute to global migration governance and enhance international cooperation on migrants and human mobility.
There are still underlying relationships between migration and human trafficking. The People Forum, a national NGO working for the rights and justice to migrant workers in partnership with National Network Against Girl Trafficking (NNAGT), recently organised a national seminar to discuss a range of issues and challenges related to migration and human trafficking. The inputs from civil society would be instrumental in reviewing the policy and legal framework of foreign employment and human trafficking to make it more responsive and inclusive.
Despite some progress, safe migration and human trafficking still need more attention for comprehensive response. Most of the civil society organisations have identified the emerging priorities of inter-ministerial coordination to effectively implement relevant policies and legal provisions to ensure safe migration which will undoubtedly reduce vulnerabilities to human trafficking. As migration and trafficking are closely associated, its impacts on individuals, families and communities are potentially huge.
Foreign employment has become a major source of income to most rural families in Nepal. Considering huge labour migration, Migration Resource Centres (MRCs) have been established in some selected districts which provide potential migrant workers with accurate and relevant information on safer migration. With this, they can make an informed decision to protect themselves from fraud, exploitation and trafficking.
In addition, there are some good initiatives to empower migrant workers. There is a provision of free of cost skills training to the potential migrants. Some MRCs provide psycho-social counselling to families left behind and financial literacy classes to returnees and families left behind. However, there is a clear need to scale up and expand these initiatives across the country.
Undoubtedly, human trafficking is one of the most serious human rights violations of our modern world. Smuggling of migrants involves the facilitation of illegal entry of a person into a state of which that person is not a national or resident, for financial or other material benefit.
Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants are great challenges for developing countries in particular. These are most often experienced as an obstacle to sustainable human development, the rule of law and a serious threat to human security. There are different patterns of trafficking and smuggling which need to be constantly examined and monitored in order to mitigate the potential risks and impacts.
The regional initiatives such as Colombo Process, Abu Dhabi Dialogue and SAARC’s convention on preventing and combating trafficking have been effective to ensure safe migration for foreign employment and hence address a range of issues related to migrants’ rights in countries of origin and destination. The regional coordination and cooperation to enhance migration governance is extremely important to advance the social well-being of migrant workers by protecting and promoting their rights.
Additionally, international labour migration is on rise which can broadly be characterised by the movement of low and high-skilled workers. Low-skilled migration has the potential to lift families out of poverty and to enable household investments in housing, education and small enterprises. The purpose is to enhance the welfare of migrant workers and their families by maximising the benefits of migration.

Knowledge transfer
However, high skilled migration can have diverse and potentially opposing set of effects in sending countries, especially among those that have human capital shortages and face other development constraints. On the other hand, high-skilled migrants integrate their home countries into the global economy by facilitating transfer of knowledge and building numerous other economic, social and cultural linkages with higher income countries. To sum up, it is now high time to enhance the capacity of governments and partners to better measure, and make more visible the human development impacts of safe migration. Additionally, there is a need to mitigate the risks for migrants, their families and communities at origin and destination. Our national policies should comprehensively address issues of migration and its linkages with different development priorities.

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