Sri Lanka emphasized its commitment to address the issue of ‘ethical labour recruitment practices’ during its tenure as chair of the Colombo Process (CP), a Regional Consultative Process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origins in Asia.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha said that Sri Lanka which took over leadership of the Colombo Process one year ago was of the view that if it were to make a difference and ensure that some real benefits would accrue to the people of the member countries, it was important that they address the tough issues, including ‘Ethical Labour Recruitment Practices’.
Addressing an Expert Consultation on Recruitment Practices and their Impact on Human Rights of Migrants in Geneva, he noted that in ongoing deliberations the CP is seeking to harmonize existing national regulatory frameworks, promote Standard Employment Contracts, consider common minimum wage levels, and conditions that promote health and well-being and insurance protection, and to develop a common position on ethical recruitment practices.
Ambassador Aryasinha made these observations and reviewed the progress made by the CP under Sri Lanka’s leadership, when he addressed the Expert Consultation, held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Friday (31 October).
The consultation was convened by Mr. Francois Crepeau, Special Repporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants and was attended by diplomats, academics, representatives of the ILO and IOM, Recruitment specialists, as well as NGOs involved in the field.
He said the challenge before us remains to address some of the specific problems presented by unethical recruitment, which range from high recruitment fees, and deceit about the terms and conditions of employment, right through to forced labour.
He reiterated the timely need for international commitment/cooperation to the protection of human rights of migrants, regardless of their migration status and working towards an effective and inclusive agenda that integrates development and human rights aspects.
He noted that in the Colombo Process region the recruitment industry has become an extremely profitable business for various brokers, sub-agents and private recruitment agencies.
“The challenges faced globally by governments of origin and destination in regulating the international recruitment business and monitoring their conduct are immense, given that intermediaries range from the village headman to multinational private recruitment agencies.”
“We reiterate the timely need of international commitment/cooperation to the protection of human rights of migrants, regardless of their migration status and working towards an effective and inclusive agenda that integrates development and human rights aspects,” Ambassador Aryasinha said.
The member states of what came to be described as the “Colombo Process” comprised of 11 countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.