UN migrants’ rights official hails new pact protecting domestic workers

By United Nations

The head of a United Nations expert committee on migrants' rights today welcomed the recent adoption by the International Labour Organization (ILO) of an international convention designed to protect the rights of domestic workers, millions of whom are migrants.

“Migrant domestic workers are at heightened risk of certain forms of exploitation and abuse, due to the vulnerability, isolation and dependence in which most find themselves,” said Abdelhamid El Jamri, head of UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

“Women migrant domestic workers, in particular, face additional risks related to their gender, including gender-based violence,” Mr. El Jamri said. “These risks and vulnerabilities are further aggravated for

migrant domestic workers who are in an irregular situation, not least because they may fear deportation if they contact State authorities to seek protection from an abusive employer.”

“Speedy ratification and further implementation of the ILO Convention will improve the respect for the rights of migrant domestic workers,” Mr. El Jamri said.

The International Convention on Domestic Workers, adopted last week, states that domestic workers around the world who care for families and households, must have the same basic labour rights as those recognized for other workers: reasonable hours of work, weekly rest for at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on payment in-kind, clear information on the terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

The migrants' rights committee is made up of unpaid, independent experts who report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Gulnara Shahinian, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, also called for a speedy ratification, in a similar message issued yesterday.