Strengthening Migrant Workers' Rights: The Landmark Agreement Between Nepal and Qatar's Human Rights Watchdogs

Strengthening Migrant Workers' Rights: The Landmark Agreement Between Nepal and Qatar's Human Rights Watchdogs
Credit goes to Kathmandu Post

In a world increasingly defined by global mobility, the protection of migrant workers' rights has emerged as a pressing human rights issue. Recently, the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal and Qatar took a significant step towards addressing this issue by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate on protecting the rights of migrant workers. This landmark agreement aims to enhance cross-country cooperation, with a focus on the exchange of information from migrant worker complaints to legislative procedures.

The MoU: A Commitment to Protect Migrant Workers' Rights

The MoU was signed by Top Bahadur Magar, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal, and Mohammed Saif Al-Kuwari, deputy chairman of the Qatari National Human Rights Committee. This agreement signifies a commitment from both nations to collaborate on human rights issues, particularly those concerning migrant workers.

Al-Kuwari emphasized that the MoU presents an excellent opportunity to exchange information about migrant workers, especially given the significant number of Nepali workers in Qatar. Magar echoed this sentiment, highlighting the need for an institutionalized and effective approach to implement existing measures, timely adoption of policies and legislations, and strengthening international and regional cooperation for harmonization of policies and regulations.

The Challenges Faced by Migrant Workers

Despite the presence of international human rights laws, regional mechanisms, guidelines, and national legislation, migrant workers face numerous challenges. Qatar, one of the major labor destinations for Nepalis, has often been the subject of criticism for human rights and labor rights violations against Nepali workers.

While Qatar announced the end of the exploitative Kafala system in 2020, which restricted workers from changing their jobs or leaving the country without the employer's permission, issues persist. Employers often file charges of abscondment or theft against workers looking to change jobs, leading to their arrest, according to a recently published report.

The Need for Continued Action

The signing of the MoU between Nepal and Qatar's human rights watchdogs is a significant step towards protecting migrant workers' rights. However, the journey doesn't end here. Continued action is needed to ensure that businesses respect the human rights of migrant workers in line with internationally recognized standards.

Nearly 102,000 Nepalis have received labor approval for Qatar in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, according to the Department of Foreign Employment. With such a significant number of workers migrating for employment opportunities, it is crucial to ensure their rights and welfare are protected.

A Step Towards a Better Future for Migrant Workers

The MoU between the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal and Qatar represents a significant stride towards safeguarding the rights of migrant workers. It serves as a testament to the power of international cooperation in addressing pressing human rights issues.

As we move forward, it is crucial to continue these efforts, ensuring that policies and regulations are not just implemented but are also effective in protecting the rights of migrant workers. This agreement serves as a beacon of hope for migrant workers and sets a precedent for other countries to follow in the pursuit of protecting and upholding the rights of their migrant workforce.