The migration grievance redress mechanism

responsibility, language barriers, irregular legal status, work permits, restriction of movement, lack of
coverage by labour law, non-functional complaint mechanism and lack of information about rights. The
report also highlighted the limitations of the government institutions to deal with the barriers for making
migration safer for the migrant workers and ensure justice.
In their study report, Manzoor E Khoda and Shahzada M Akram of Transparency International
Bangladesh (TIB), have identified a number of legal, institutional and procedural governance
challenges in the labour migration process. They also mentioned that the existing legal framework of
migration had not clearly spelt out some important issues like complaint mechanism, worker selection,
compensation, etc. Moreover, they pointed out that it had been difficult to enforce the existing laws in a
proper manner due to the obscurity and limitations in the legal frameworks. There are also deficiencies
in capacity of relevant stakeholders to ensure oversight and control in the process of labour migration.
The local power structures including the political influences have been identified as the major constraint
in the grievance redress mechanism in Bangladesh, as per the publication of David Lewis and Abul
Hossain in September 2017. They outlined five power structure: Administrative institutions, Political
institutions, Formal civil society, Informal civil society, and Judiciary, where the influence of politics
has been identified in each tier which ultimately affects the local grievance mechanism.
THE GRIEVANCE REDRESS STAGES: In the case of the majority of the grievances reported relating
to the sub-agents or brokers (so called Dalal), the complaints are: the agents took the fees and failed to
send workers abroad, pre-mature return of migrant workers because of having no wages, jobs and
abused by employers, death of migrant workers, and even visa trading. Some grievances often arise
from the factors associated with the social cost of migration including: conflict over land, remittance
management, extra-marital affairs or second marriage, family separation or divorce, physical abuse,
money lending and sometimes visa trading. Besides these common complaints, the migrant workers
also stated labour trafficking complaints against the brokers or recruiting agents and sued them under
the Human Trafficking Act 2012.
It was reported that in last three years (2014-17) from Saudi Arabia, which is the major destination
country for our female domestic workers, a total of 3,339 returned after being physically and sexually
abused by the employers. In another newspaper article it was reported that at least 3,480 Bangladeshi
workers died abroad in 2017, mostly due to stroke or heart attack. Among them, 3,429 workers' bodies
were brought home through official channels, while 51 workers were buried in the host countries,
mainly in Libya, Iraq, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Beside the
grievances regarding the physical or sexual abuse and death of migrant workers abroad, some other
grievances associated with fraudulences of recruiting agencies were also reported to different grievance
redress committees or bodies.
The government institutions like the BMET resolve the grievances through a formal process called
arbitration and receive the complaints through its online complaint submission mechanism. Similarly,
the recruiting agencies' association BAIRA has its own arbitration cell. Moreover, Wage Earners
Welfare Board (WEWB) has an online call centre service named Probash Bondhu Call Center through
which it is also providing counseling and complaint receiving services round the clock. Intently the
arbitration mechanism of BMET and BAIRA could not ensure gratified justice for the survivors. In
some cases the migrant workers and their families used the local mediation system called Shalish or
filing cases at Village Court to resolve conflicts. For complex cases, migrant workers with the help of
legal aid or NGOs sued the recruiting agents or local brokers under the Overseas Employment and
Migration Act 2013 or Human Trafficking Act 2012.
The following four stages have been followed in the structure of migration grievance mechanism
practised informally by the government institutions and the civil society organisations (CSOs):
STAGE-1: COMMUNICATION AND CASE FILING: The survivors (here the migrant workers,
returnees, left-behind family members of migrant workers) follow two channels of communications to
redress migration-related grievances, one is directly communicating with local grievance management
committees or Shalish committees and another is to communicating with agents or brokers.


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