Affirm and Respect the Human Dignity of Migrant Workers
On this International Migrants Day — which is observed on 18 December annually — the Malaysian Bar acknowledges and salutes the indefatigable spirit and courage of all migrant workers.
Malaysia hosts more than two million documented migrant workers, and a large number of undocumented migrants, estimated at between two million and five million persons.
The increasing number of migrant workers in Malaysia indicates that Malaysia remains a popular destination for migrant workers in the region who seek a better life for themselves and their families. It is indisputable that migrant workers have contributed tremendously to the development of our economy.
Over the years, the Bar Council — through its Migrants, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Committee as well as its Legal Aid Centres nationwide — has monitored, intervened and acted in many cases involving migrant workers. Their complaints range from physical abuse, to withholding of passports, lack of health care and medical care, non-payment of wages, long working hours, no “day off” or rest days, and delays in release from detention — all of which are situations they all too commonly face. Although migrant workers are covered under the Employment Act 1955, ad hoc and arbitrary labour and immigration policies often hinder their access to justice.
In conjunction with International Migrants Day 2015, the Malaysian Bar calls upon the Malaysian Government to:
(1) Ensure full respect for the human rights and humane treatment of migrants, regardless of their migration status, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015;
The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government of Malaysia to accede to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1990. This Convention — which marked its 25th anniversary today — recognises and guarantees respect for the dignity and rights of all migrants, regardless of their national origin or immigration status.
The Malaysian Bar reiterates that no person should be discriminated against, or deemed to be an “illegal” person, due to his or her undocumented status. Malaysia must demonstrate a greater commitment to implementing effective measures to affirm and respect the human dignity of all migrant workers.
18 December 2015
 In 2008, Bar Council’s Migrants, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Committee held a conference with various stakeholders to draft a memorandum entitled “Developing a Comprehensive Policy Framework for Migrant Workers”, which outlined the gaps in the existing policies and recommended suitable solutions.