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28 Apr 2023

Africa: ILO assesses the regulation of migration to reduce human rights abuse across AU member states

South African agricultural workers and members of the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) plant cabbage seedlings on a farm in Rustenburg.
We are in the age of multilateralism, and here is the greatest challenge for these States: it is to take care of the problems of their populations through sub-regional meetings. What I mean by that is that African leaders must ensure integration not only at the top but also much more at the bottom. That the populations in Cameroon, since we are here, welcome their brothers from Chad and do not perceive them as a threat. Thus, the first challenge is the real political will and that our sub-regional organisations play their role.
KII 1 Cameroon – External Relations Ministry
Kenyans in the Gulf states have faced some problems. There has been an outcry from migrants’ relatives back home saying that the government hasn’t been doing enough. The government says that they don’t have enough manpower. Consular services there are meant to cater for the migrants. Think about the labour attaches in Saudi Arabia, for example. The number of migrants there are many and it’s hard for the labour attaches to follow up on all the cases brought to their attention.
KIIREC1 Kenya – Business Africa/Federation of Kenyan Employers (FKE)

An International Labour Organisation review of legal frameworks regulating migration across African Union member states emphasises a lack of human rights protection for migrant workers. The study makes recommendations to RECS and AU Member States to further protect migrant worker rights through policies and regulations that are sensitive to the lived experiences of migrant workers in host countries and during transit. The report suggests cooperation between stakeholders is essential to managing labour migration, shedding light on the importance of collaboration between different actors, including governments, employers, workers’ organisations, NGOs and civil society. The report also suggests governments should collaborate with recruitment agencies to increase oversight and reduce exploitative recruitment practices.

The report conveys a gap between the human rights of migrants in international law, and migrants’ everyday realities. In particular, the report focuses on the intersecting vulnerabilities experienced by undocumented migrants, youth, women, and low-skilled labourers.

The report discusses various human rights impacts experienced by migrant workers, including:

  • A lack of social security
  • Difficulty obtaining representation
  • Gender-based violence
  • Poor living and working conditions
  • Exploitative recruitment practices