One migrant worker who had been defrauded of his recruitment fees by an agent recounted that the agent called him and his wife a number of times threatening to kill them if they took the case to the police, but each time from a different number. In that case, the migrant worker succeeded in having the agent arrested but he was not prosecuted for making threats.
The Open Society Foundation recently released Migrant Workers’ Access to Justice at Home: Nepal, the first comprehensive analysis of the Nepali mechanisms that regulate labor migration and provide redress to migrant workers. The two-year empirical study included examination of the abuses and labor violations occurring throughout the migration process, from recruitment to return.
The report found that Nepal failed to hold private recruitment companies and agencies accountable; though laws governing recruitment and placement of Nepali migrants are robust, implementation and enforcement is weak. The report also found that most migrants are unable to access compensation or other forms of justice when their rights are violated in Nepal or abroad. Obstacles to obtaining justice included a lack of rights awareness as well as the centralization of redress mechanisms in Kathmandu. The report also identified the threat or fear of retaliation from recruitment agencies as a common deterrent to reporting abuse.
The report presented a number of recommendations for Nepal’s governments, including:
- Strengthening oversight of contracts provided to migrants
- Improving transparency and accountability in the regulation of recruitment agencies and individual agents
- Establishing enforceable protections and redress for workers who suffer severe abuse, debt bondage, or trafficking
- Improving protections and rights enforceability for female migrant workers
- Enforcing rights and remedies for workers in an irregular status
- Improving embassy support for migrant worker rights enforcement
- Improving the reach of pre-departure orientation programs and coverage of information on legal rights and seeking redress, building off existing NGO and union-led program