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CHR seeks stricter monitoring of overseas domestic workers

Graphic: Migrant workers from the Philippines in Taiwan

The Commission has highlighted the need to protect Filipino domestic workers from the risk of human rights abuses and modern-day slavery.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called for a stricter monitoring of overseas Filipino domestic workers to prevent human rights abuses and modern-day slavery.

Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, the CHR's focal Commissioner for migrant workers' rights, noted that the amended Migrant Workers' Act states that the Philippines shall allow the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) only in countries where the rights of Filipino migrant workers are protected.

"The law is very clear. For it to be properly implemented, we need stronger and sustainable partnerships between government, the private sector, civil society and OFW," Commissioner Gana said.

The CHR extended its deepest sympathies to the family of OFW Joanna Demafelis – whose body was found in a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait – and expressed hopes that the necessary reforms are put in place to prevent similar gruesome crimes involving OFWs.

"That her employers subjected her to physical torture prior to freezing and abandoning her body for more than a year reveal the kind of risks that our OFWs particularly domestic workers overseas are confronted with," Commissioner Gana said.

"We must always remember Joanna and other victims like her so that our resolve to undertake reforms remains strong and unwavering," she added.


Graphic: Social media card to promote the rights of OFWs


One of the reforms that the government may consider is how to provide quicker response to urgent calls for help from OFWs or their next of kin.

Commissioner Gana noted that the Demafelis family did seek help from various government agencies when the worker could no longer be contacted.

"The CHR supports the government's efforts to promote stronger protection and enhanced welfare mechanisms for our overseas Filipino workers especially those most prone to abuse and exploitation," Commissioner Gana said.

She noted that distressed workers who were recently repatriated from Kuwait may require psychosocial services and medical attention.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights is working with various non-government organizations to put together an awareness and education campaign on the rights of migrant workers.

"We are in the process of consolidating these agreements and developing learning materials that our partners in government, the private sector, and civil society can share with their stakeholders," she said.

Date: 16 February 2018

Source: Commission on Human Rights


Image credits

  1. Migrant workers from the Philippines in Taiwan - Lennon Ying-Dah Wong, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2CK3QEM
  2. Social media card to promote the rights of OFWs - Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines