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Dhaka Tribune

Experts call for investigation into unexplained migrant worker deaths

Origin countries should band together in international forums, they say

Update : 23 Mar 2022, 11:56 PM

Speakers at a consultation highlighted the need for conducting investigations into the unnatural deaths of migrant workers in destination countries, including those in the Gulf States. 

They called upon labour receiving countries to set up teams of inspectors and medical examiners at facilities that engaged migrant workers. They also urged for the introduction of non-invasive autopsy procedures in consultation with experts. 

These observations were made at the launch of a multi-country report on “The Death of migrant workers in the Gulf,” organized at a Dhaka hotel by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU).

While delivering the keynote presentation, Dr CR Abrar of RMMRU noted that the competition among the countries of origin and perceived benefits of outward migration, as well as the Gulf States’ effective use of economic and political leverage deter the origin states from collectively demanding better protection for the workers. 

He further said that migrant workers are exposed to hard climate conditions and poor air quality in the absence of proper mitigating measures. These risks are compounded by abusive working conditions, including excessive working hours and non-nutritious diets. 

Lack of implementation of occupational safety measures and mental stress are also resulting in the untimely deaths of migrant workers. 

Shariful Hasan, head of Migration at Brac, emphasized the need for developing a module for health protection of migrant workers in the pre-departure training manuals.

Former foreign secretary Touhid Hossain regretted that the sending countries have been unable to exert sufficient pressure on the countries of destination to ensure the protection of migrant workers.

Ruling party lawmaker Tanvir Shakil Joy highlighted the need for mobilizing the collective strength of the sending countries through various regional and international forums. 

Mehjabin Khaled, secretary general of Bangladesh Parliamentary Caucus of Migration, underscored the need for a public discussion on protection issues in the parliament. 

Barrister Jyortirmoy Barua of Nagorik served the reminder that conducting autopsies of all unnatural deaths of its nationals is the legal obligation of the Bangladesh state. He also called for engaging the ILO and World Health Organization to ensure health protection of workers in the destination countries.

Among others, Shahidul Haque, former foreign secretary, Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury of BAIRA, Dr Fayezul Hakim Lala of People’s Platform on Public Health, Saiful Haque of WARBE, journalist Shahidul Islam Choudhury, Sheikh Romana of BOMSA, and representatives of Wage Earners’ Welfare Board and BMET, participated in the discussion.

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