Ensure Justice for Migrant Workers Sent Home | Human Rights Watch

senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The least governments can do is make
sure that these workers get the salaries and compensation they have earned before they were forced
to leave their jobs.”
Each year, millions of dollars are lost in potential remittances due to wage theft. Repatriation of
migrant workers without due diligence by the countries involved in the time of the pandemic will only
exacerbate the injustices to which migrant workers are often subjected.
Human Rights Watch for instance has documented over several years how many migrant workers in
the Middle East, mostly from Asia and Africa, have been forced to leave the country they were working
in without being paid wages owed to them.
Countries of destination and origin have begun procedures to repatriate migrant workers. The groups
endorsing the joint letter warned that without adequate oversight by the authorities, employers
might take advantage of mass repatriation programs to terminate and return workers to whom they
have not provided full compensation, wages, and benefits.
The groups said that countries of origin and destination should work together to urgently put in
place a justice mechanism through which repatriated workers who lost their jobs as a result of the
pandemic can address labor disputes. Such a mechanism should be fast, accessible, affordable, and
efficient. The mechanism should ensure that all repatriated workers with legitimate claims are able to
access justice and compensation.
The mechanism should also provide safeguards and mobilize resources to ensure that migrants are
able to pursue their cases after they return to their countries, the groups said. They should have
access to legal advice and support, a way to facilitate power of attorney procedures, and ways to ease
requirements for in-person testimony. The countries of destination where the migrants worked
should require employers and businesses to keep all employment records and allow workers to take
copies of their records with them.

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