Vulnerable and exploited: 7 things we learned about migrant labour in palm oil

Source: The Guardian

UK daily The Guardian reported today an ‘abusive system’ to be prevalent in Malaysia’s palm oil industry, involving human trafficking for labour, debt bondage and culminating in the birth of stateless children born to these foreign workers. — Reuters pic

Many leave dire situations to work in oil palm plantations hoping for a better future, but they are vulnerable to deception and poor working conditions. — Reuters pic

Palm oil makes its way from the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia (and increasingly Africa and Latin America) into 50% of what we buy, from toothpaste to margarine. Linked to deforestation, habitat loss, fires and the displacement of communities, the production of palm oil has raised major concerns to date.

The palm oil industry is also a huge user of migrant labour, which bring problems of exploitation and discrimination. Here’s what we learned in a recent expert live chat on palm oil and migration.

1. Palm oil is a popular industry for migrants

2. Using migrant labour in palm oil is nothing new

When the Dutch first introduced oil palms to south-east Asia 150 years ago, they brought migrants from India and China to cultivate the plantations. Now the region employs workers from countries including Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines, Burma, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam.

Oil palm plantations are among the least monitored worksites in the world due to their remoteness and size, but the rapid growth of mobile phone technology is bringing the industry’s abuses out of the shadows. Read more

Law Code Changes Threaten Rights — Human Rights Watch

Source: Human Rights Watch

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division. — AP File Pic

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division. — AP File Pic

Bangkok – Malaysia’s Senate should reject the government’s proposed legal changes that would undermine the rights of criminal suspects, Human Rights Watch said today. Amendments to the country’s Code of Criminal Procedure passed the lower house of parliament on May 19, 2016, and will be debated by the Senate in the session starting on June 13.

The proposed amendments are being made at a time when the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak has intensified its crackdown on criticism by civil society activists, Human Rights Watch said. The code changes would limit the discretion of judges to impose more lenient sentences, allow for previously inadmissible testimony by unidentified witnesses and written testimony, and allow the denial of bail for a broader range of political and other offences. Read more

NSC Act gazette no good without date, lawyers say

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 will remain dormant for as long as it is not gazetted with an enforcement date - MMO File pic

The National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 will remain dormant for as long as it is not gazetted with an enforcement date – MMO File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 ―National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 will remain dormant for as long as it is not gazetted with an enforcement date, lawyers said today.

They said the current gazette was issued without stating when the law will come into effect, noting that the requirement was also specifically stated in Section 1(2) of the Act.

“The gazette date is not the coming into force date. So there must be another government gazette to inform the date of coming into force,” Firdaus Husni, the Bar Council’s former constitutional law committee chairman, told Malay Mail Online. Read more