Past Events 2023

Capacity Enhancement Workshop of Lawyers, Journalists and CSOs in Ensuring Access to Justice for the Migrant Workers
Organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU)
Supported by The Asia Foundation
Date: 17-18 February, 2023
Venue: BCDM, Savar, Dhaka

A two-day capacity enhancement workshop of lawyers, journalists and CSOs in ensuring access to justice for the migrant workers was organized by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) with the support of The Asia Foundation on 17 and 18 February, 2023 at BCDM, Savar, Dhaka. Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua and Advocates Farida Yeasmin and Tajul Islam, Udisa Islam, Special Correspondent, Bangla Tribune; Kazi Abul Kalam, former Joint Secretary, MoEWOE; Dr. Nurul Islam, migration expert; Binoy Krishna Mallick, Executive Director, Rights Jessore; Rezaur Rahman Lenin, researcher and activist and Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj, Country Representative, The Asia Foundation attended the workshop as Resource Persons and Panelists. Lawyers from three district and sessions’ judge courts, journalists and members of civil society organisations also participated.

The aims of the workshop were to examine the scope of the 2013 Migration Act and the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012; the experiences of lawyers in higher judiciary and the field experience of ongoing cases in the lower courts; shortcomings of BMET arbitration and its possible guidelines; the experiences of ADR mechanism in migration related disputes; and the role of civil society and media in securing migrants’ access to justice.

On the first day after the welcome address by CR Abrar Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua conducted a session on comparative analysis of the Overseas Employment and Migrants Act, 2012 and the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2013. Farida Yeasmin and Md.Tajul Islam conducted sessions on the scope and shortcomings of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism of the existing law in settling migration related disputes. There is a rule for arbitration mentioned in the Act of 2013, what is there is not standard, mentioned Md. Tajul Islam. Then lawyers from three districts presented the prevailing scenario of migration and human trafficking cases in their respective districts. They said that generally civil cases are not filed in those courts due to lack of necessary evidence and documents. The first day's activities concluded with a session on scope for judicial activism for protecting rights of migrants.

On the second day, after the recap of issues covered in Day 1 two panel discussions were held on the role of media and civil society in ensuring access to justice for migrant workers. The speakers noted local level journalists can play a vital role in projecting migrants’ experiences in accessing justice at the grassroots level in the media.

On both the days, participating lawyers, journalists and members of civil society organisations took part in open discussions and exchanged insights and experiences. The workshop concluded with closing remarks by Mr. Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj and vote of thanks by CR Abrar.

Dissemination Workshop on ‘Death of Women Migrant Workers in Destination Countries’
Date: 31 January 2023
Venue: Parliament Members’ Club

From 1991 to 2021, Bangladesh has sent 12,636,361 migrant workers abroad where 10,00,456 were women migrant workers. In the last five years, 430,453 women migrants have gone abroad. In spite of the huge number of women migrant workers’ participation in the migration; the issue of their death at the destination countries is often not discussed that much. From 2017 to 2022, Bangladesh has brought back 664 bodies of women migrants from different countries. In 2019 alone, 129 women migrant workers’ dead bodies were brought home. Of them, 24 had committed suicide. This data triggered the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) to dive down into the issue. In this regard, RMMRU initiated a qualitative study on ‘Death of Women Migrant Workers in Destination Countries’ with an aim to develop evidence-based policy suggestions as well as recommendations on the investigation procedure regarding the cases of suspicious death of women migrants abroad. The findings of the study are expected to play an important role in pursuing the government of Bangladesh to ensure protection including that of investigation into the causes of unnatural death besides negotiating with the CoDs to provide Bangladeshi women migrant workers’ concrete protection. RMMRU organised a dissemination workshop on 'Death of Women Migrant Workers in Destination Countries’ on January 31st, 2023 at the Parliament Member’s Club in this regard. Dr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed, Chairman, NHRC graced the event as the chief guest and Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Founding Chair of RMMRU and Chairperson, Department of Political Science, Dhaka University shared the findings of the study and moderated the event with other experts.

The objective of this workshop was to share evidence-based policy suggestions to ensure protection of the female migrant workers abroad, and pursue a rapid response mechanism to support the affected women migrant workers and their families. The recommendations derived from the study believed to support to pursue effective reinvestigation procedures and easy legal access in cases of suspicious deaths of women migrant workers in the destination countries.

While sharing the findings of the study Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Founding Chair, RMMRU shared that 69% of the deceased female migrant died of natural causes. However, in case of Saudi Arabia 24% had died committing suicide. The research shows that unnatural death are recorded only in labour receiving countries, no case of unnatural death reported in non-labour receiving Asian and developed western countries. She shared that the migrant families are not aware about the rights and entitlements of the deceased migrant. 56% received information of the demise of their migrant family member within-five days of death. 48% of the interviewed family members of the deceased female migrants under this research said that they did not trust the cause of death assigned in the death certificate. In cases of compensation there are also much to do. Dr. Siddiqui also added that receiving the dead body of the deceased is a new ball gain altogether. Household members hardly had any information on how to proceed. No designated place is there for the dead bodies. They are kept inside premises on a temporary

arrangement. Papers, documents, attestations required is in different places. Families have hard time in finishing all the documentation in a reasonable time.

From the participants, CSO, media, medical experts and international organization representatives suggested to add sessions on raising awareness about the work environment as well as migrants’ rights and the awareness about the physical and mental fitness during the Pre-departure orientation session. Ms. Ms. Tapati Saha from UN Women said the government should ensure the workplace safety through bilateral treaties or agreement or any other means specially in case of domestic work sector as most cases of death is happening in this sector.

Mr. Md. Shahidul Alam, NDC, DG, BMET and the special guest of the event applauded the research initiative. He requested to include the segregated roles of the BMET, WEWB and other government line agencies in these death cases of women migrant workers so that a smooth and immediate service can be ensured.
Mr. Md. Selim Reza, Full time member of NHRC recommended to give importance on digitalization on maintaining data of death cases. A mobile app can also be developed to provide service and receive complaints of the family members of the deceased migrant workers. He also emphasized on enhancing the quality of the training provided by BMET and urged WEWB to come forward to give direct service. He recommended to select a nominee beforehand migrating to the abroad so that in cases of death in destination countries, the family can get the compensation in no time.

Mr. Rana Mohammad Sohail, MP, member of Parliament Caucus on Migration and Development who was present as the Guest of Honour said that the work contract should be concrete otherwise the negotiation with the destination countries in such cases would become weak. There should be contractual obligation in the work contract regarding postmortem and investigation in the destination countries to force it with legal bindings.

The Chief Guest of the event, Dr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed, Chairman, NHRC said such research is commendable as the human rights of the vulnerable migrant workers are recognized through this work. This research clearly shows there are needs of reinvestigation, provide safety, so the government, CSOs, and other responsible institutions must work in these cases. The responsible stakeholders must raise the issues and be vocal in the international forum like GFMD, Abu Dhabi Dialogue, Colombo Process etc.

Barrister Shameem Haider Patowary, MP, Chairperson of Bangladesh Parliamentarians’ Caucus on Migration & Development and chair of the dissemination workshop said the research is very timely initiative and suggested to include agency-wise data in terms of death cases in the destination countries so that the migrant workers can be aware from whom they should take services. He recommended to appoint a female police officials and doctors at the airport in the origin country who will initiate a primary postmortem of the dead body. Beside emphasizing on the digitalization, he highlighted the need of regular follow up and communication with the female migrant workers abroad weekly or fortnightly to ensure their workplace safety. One stop service at the destination country can be an important addition to safety measures for the female migrant workers. He also urged to appoint the experts/officials from the MoEWOE to the destination country as counselor or welfare officer so that the service towards migrant workers will be more concrete.

Stakeholders’ Engagement Meeting at BILS
Project: Vital Signs: Quantifying and Researching Asian worker deaths in the Gulf Building a Coalition for Greater Protection
Date: 24th January, 2023
Venue: Conference Room, BILS

A stakeholders’ engagement meeting was held with Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies (BILS) officials on the Vital Signs report, Migrant Workers’ Access to Health in the Gulf on January 24, 2023 at BILS office. Ms. Kohinoor Mahmood, Director, BILS; Ms. Nazma Yesmin, Director, BILS; Mr. Md. Manirul Islam, Deputy Director, BILS; Mr. M A Majid, Deputy Director, BILS and other senior officials of the Institute attended the meeting. The Executive Director of RMMRU, Dr. C R Abrar presented the summary report before the representatives of BILS. After the presentation of the report, representatives of BILS and RMMRU participated in an open discussion on various issues highlighted in the report and labour migration. They shared their practical experiences.

RMMRU and the Vital Signs partnership is supported by the UK based organisation, Fair Square which is researching the causes of unnatural deaths of South Asian migrant workers in the Gulf destination countries and their access to health care issues. The report was the second in a series of three. It was published as part of the study.

Report on “Business Advisory Training for Returnee Migrants and Families”
Organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit ( RMMRU)
Supported by ISEPR project of the British High Commission
Date: 21 January 2023
Place: Tangail

A business advisory training titled “Business Advisory Training for Returnee Migrants and Families” was conducted on 21 January 2023 in Tangail to increase the skill and capacity of returnee migrants and their families to develop businesses by themselves. Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) under the project ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Economic and Psycho-social Reintegration: A Survivor-Centered Approach for the Returned Migrants’ organized this training engaging 55 returnee migrants and families from Paikora Union, Elenga Pourosova and Gala Unions.
Objectives of the training are

• To enhance the skill and promoting the capacity of returnee migrants and their family members to develop businesses and make them Entrepreneur or Businessman in their own.
• To generate new business ideas and select suitable businesses for the returnee migrants and family members for reintegration.

Ms. Marina Sultana, Director Programme of RMMRU, presented the training objectives and led training sessions. Ms. Sonia Shahid, Market Development Expert and Mr. Sajjad Hossain Bhuiyan, Financial Literacy Expert conducted the training with in–depth sessions plan. In addition, Ms Nazma Akhter, Field Coordinator, and Ms Rabeya Nasrin, Project Manager, also facilitated the training.Through this training the trainer explored the most feasible business for the returnees and families to develop and run their own business and make them an entrepreneur. The participants were oriented with market-oriented business plans and familiarised with the technical part of the business like cost of business, income from the business, safe investments plans etc. through group work, poster presentations, discussions etc.

“I have a business of sweet shop and I am skilled in making local sweets (golla) by my own. I will expand my business using the knowledge and recommendations of this training. This training helped me to explore my capacities and skill and talents.” said by a returnee migrants in this training.

RMMRU identified the most potential returnee migrants and families through this training and developed realistic business ideas for them as part of economic reintegration initiatives. A total of 55 returnee migrants and family members joined the training.