Urgent Justice Mechanism for Repatriated Migrant Workers Now
On 1 June 2020, a coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions launched an appeal for
an “Urgent Justice Mechanism”, to address the plight of millions of migrant workers who have
been repatriated or are awaiting repatriation as a result of pandemic-related job loss. The appeal
called on governments to establish a transitional justice mechanism that would specifically address
the huge volume of cases of wage theft and other outstanding claims heightened in the course of
the pandemic, ensuring migrant workers are able to access justice and receive their due
compensation.
A month later, the situation of migrant workers has significantly worsened. Large scale returns,
deportations and repatriations have become a reality. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers
have returned home empty handed with nothing but a few personal belongings and the prospects
of falling further into debt and poverty. Those numbers will continue to rise exponentially well
beyond the availability of a vaccine even as markets struggle to stabilize.
Faced with this grave crime, we renew our call and we urge governments and UN agencies to take
immediate action in three main areas:

1- Establish an International Claims Commission:
Due to the vast volume of emerging claims, a specialized body should be set up to specifically ensure the
expedited and just resolution of wage-theft and other outstanding claims of repatriated migrant workers1.
An International Claims Commission must be set up as a specialized international quasi-legal body of
expedited justice to adjudicate on claims of migrant workers on an expedited basis in cases related to wage
theft and other outstanding claims and to provide equitable remedies. Cases could be received directly
from migrants themselves or through entities providing support or legal representation to migrants. All
pre-existing case documentations should be referred to the Claims Commissions for resolution.
The International Claims Commission could be administered jointly by ILO and IOM2, together with other
relevant stakeholders. Given its quasi-legal nature, the composition of the Claims Commission could draw

1

See below for more information on case eligibility criteria.
ILO has the technical expertise and experience with an international compensation mechanism in the UNCC. In addition, its
work with Qatar on the workers’ support and insurance fund provides a model in which the remedy is expedited by having the
2

Select target paragraph3