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Promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers

Graphic: Migrant worker in Qatar

Migrant workers can be among the most vulnerable members of the communities in which they live and work.

Many suffer serious violations of their human rights, including ill-treatment by immigration or law enforcement authorities, abusive or exploitative working conditions, a lack of basic workplace rights and protections, limited access to social security, systemic discrimination and wide-spread xenophobia and prejudice.

National human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific region have identified the important role they can play in promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers and their families.

A number have established outreach and monitoring programs and some have developed formal Memorandums of Understanding with other NHRIs in the region to strengthen the protections available to migrant workers.

The APF's blended learning training program shares the lessons learned from these initiatives and aims to build the capacity of NHRI staff to respond to the human rights issues facing migrant workers in their countries.

  • The online component includes four weeks of discussion on the:
  • International framework on the rights of migrant workers
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers
  • Role of NHRIs to protect irregular migrant workers in detention
  • Role of NHRIs in promoting and protecting migrant workers' rights.

Participants who complete the online course take part in a regional workshop, during which time they will develop a project proposal on migrant workers to take back to their respective NHRIs for consideration.

Graphic: Migrant workers on a building site in Qatar

Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Migrant Workers: A Manual for NHRIs

This manual examines the different ways that NHRIs can use their unique mandate to promote and protect the human rights of migrant workers.


The APF has delivered:

  • Workshop for the NHRIs of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Nepal, Palestine, Philippines and Qatar, 13-14 November 2016
  • Blended learning program for 17 APF members, March-May 2013

Between 2009 and 2012, APF member institutions took part in a capacity building program on the human rights of migrant workers that also brought together representatives from NGOs and trade unions in the Asia Pacific region.

Human Rights and Migrant Workers – A Training Program for Advocates, organised by the Diplomacy Training Program, encouraged participants to work together to develop practical strategies to promote and protect the rights of migrant workers at the national and regional level.

The APF was a partner organisation in programs run in Doha, Qatar (2012); Bangkok, Thailand (2011); Lombok, Indonesia (2010); and Dili, Timor Leste (2009).


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Image credits

  1. Migrant worker in Qatar - Richard Messenger, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1WbQKG9