Human Rights Advocacy

As a journalist with Migrant-Rights.org I work on human rights advocacy using the tools of my trade. These are some of the pieces published on the site.

[STORIES OF ORIGIN]

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BETTER LIVES. BETTING ON MIGRATION

STORIES OF ORIGIN is a new MR series that explores the lived experiences of both returning and potential migrants, and their families. First stop is Nepal, which sees on average 1500 citizens emigrating to the GCC daily.

RETURNEES’ DREAMS. SOME INTERRUPTED.

In the second part of this series, we explore the nature of repatriation, and the lives of the survivors.

RECRUITMENT OR HUMAN TRAFFICKING?

In the concluding piece of a three-part series we address issues of recruitment and training. The deadly earthquake in Nepal and the large-scale loss of people, property and livelihood could mean greater vulnerability of the economically downtrodden. It has never been more critical than now for governments in both countries of origin and employment to clean up the migration cycle.

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YOUR GUIDE TO EMPLOYING A DOMESTIC WORKER IN THE GCC

The GCC is home to hundreds of thousands of migrant domestic workers. From cleaning and cooking, to babysitting and tending to the elderly and ill, domestic workers contribute significantly to the upkeep of homes in the region.

NOT JUST KAFALA: QATAR’S BAND-AID TREATMENT FOR A DEEP WOUND DOES NOT RECOGNISE 6 MAIN SYSTEMIC FAILURES

Qatar’s failure is due largely to its stubborn stand of not recognising migrant workers as critical players in national building.

NEPAL FREE VISA, FREE TICKET POLICY DOESN’T DETER DEMAND FOR WORKERS

In July 2015, Nepal began its ‘free visa, free ticket’ policy, whereby, potential migrants paid no more than NPR20,000 in processing fees.

UN MISSES OPPORTUNITY TO PRESSURE QATAR FOR REFORM

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad Al Hussein during a recent visit to Qatar, went soft on the country.

INDIANS GONE MISSING; DECADES OF STORIES FROM THE GCC

A popular Malayalam television program now seeks to use its reach in GCC and India to help migrant workers and their families.

MIGRANT WORKERS AWAITING JUSTICE FIND THEMSELVES HOMELESS IN QATAR

Right outside the Indian Embassy in Doha, Qatar is a plot of landscaped space that some call a park. At any given point of time this ‘park’ serves as a home for migrant workers trying to navigate the complicated path to the airport and head back home. Meanwhile, they are at the mercy of their kafeel or employer who holds their passports, and decides on their exit.

QATAR: RENAMING KAFALA IS NOT ENDING KAFALA

The Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar, Ali Bin Smaikh al Marri, claimed that the new decree “replaces kafala with a working contract.” Local Arabic daily Al Sharq, quoted unnamed lawyers saying “Replacing sponsor/sponsored with recruiter/expat means a termination of the kafala system.” Al Sharq says the new law will take effect one year from the date of official publication.

ISOLATION RENDERS HOUSEMAIDS MORE VULNERABLE TO ABUSE

There are over two million* female migrant domestic workers in the GCC, most of whom are from the Philippines and Indonesia.

Qatar: No country for migrant men

In yet another move that marginalises lower-income migrant workers, Qatar’s Ministry of Municipal and Urban Planning has released a map earmarking ‘no-go’ zones for workers (erroneously dubbing these men as bachelors, though most of them leave behind wives and children, to earn a living in the Gulf state.) Areas marked yellow in each municipality in this map are the ‘family’ zones.

It’s not the deaths, but the exploited lives of migrant workers that Zaha Hadid should be quizzed on

Qatar’s migrant worker death statistics have made yet another controversial appearance, this time with renowned architect Zaha Hadid walking out on an interview during which she was repeatedly questioned about the thousand odd deaths on world cup sites, including the one she has designed.

QATAR’S SHURA COUNCIL RESISTS REFORMS. A TIMELINE OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND UNFULFILLED PROMISES.

Qatar’s powerful Shura Council (Advisory Council) that met on June 22 has raised objections to several articles in a draft sponsorship law, which if passed would have met some of Qatar’s promises for labor reform.

KAFALA AS A BUSINESS; KAFEEL AS A CAREER

Using the power of their signature and their access to multiple domestic workers’ visas, for some citizens in the GCC, the kafala system turns into a revenue stream.

CARELESS MEDIA REPORTING ON QATAR LEAVES MIGRANT WORKERS MORE VULNERABLE

Let’s start with the disclaimer. This is not an apology for Qatar.

QATAR ‘LABOR CAMP’ FIRE EXPOSES MORE FRAILTIES OF KAFALA AND THE LABOR LAW

The 452 workers who lost every last scrap of their belongings in a fire in Qatar on Friday morning still have their passports in tact. Because the passports have been in the possession of their employer since they started work, Migrant-Rights.org learned while speaking to the victims.

LEBANON’S MIGRANT DOMESTIC WORKERS UNION IS A SLIM HOPE FOR MORE RIGHTS

Lebanon’s hold over the most vulnerable of its migrant workers, those in domestic work, has tightened in recent years. But this hasn’t stopped an increasing number of them from joining the recently formed union to fight for their rights.

[MEDIA GUIDELINES] WRITING ABOUT MIGRANTS. ARE YOU PART OF THE PROBLEM OR THE SOLUTION?

The narrative on migration – globally, but more so in the Arab world – is polarised, and this is reflected in the way local media covers news on migrants and migration.

QATAR TO IMPLEMENT WAGE PROTECTION SYSTEM; DOESN’T FULLY ADDRESS WORKERS’ NEEDS

The WPS in isolation will do little to improve conditions of low-income migrant workers in the country. Qatar’s failure to reform the oppressive sponsorship system shows reluctance to delve deeper into its labor market problems.

WILL PLIGHT OF INDIAN MIGRANT WORKERS RECEIVE MORE ATTENTION WITH THEIR RIGHT TO VOTE?

The Indian government has decided to allow Non-Resident Indians (NRI) to vote through e-postal ballots or proxy voting. Though NRIs were never formally disenfranchised, they had to be physically present to cast their vote with no option to cast their ballot remotely.

MIGRANT FISHERMEN HIT BY A DOUBLE WHAMMY. REGIONAL POLITICS AND STIFLING KAFALA SYSTEM

After 10 weeks of detention and uncertainty across two countries, five Indian fishermen finally left Qatar on Wednesday, Nov 26. In a tiny room that houses eight, in Wakrah–a coastal town bordering Doha, the fishermen spoke to Migrant-Rights.org about the nightmare that began at sea and continued on land in Qatar. First caught in cross-border politics, and then in the shackles of the kafala system that immobilised them in Qatar.

TRAPPED NEPALI WORKER LEAVES QATAR AFTER 13 YEARS; SYSTEMIC ISSUES STILL CAUSE FOR CONCERN

TRAPPED IN QATAR: A THIRTEEN YEAR SENTENCE FOR REAR-ENDING A CAR?