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    Rights of migrant workers and members of their families :    

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The Convention defines the rights of migrant workers under two main headings:

  1. Human Rights of migrant workers and members of their families (Part III) and
  2. Other Rights of migrant workers and members of their families (Part IV).

The Human Rights are applicable to all migrant workers irrespective of their legal status while the other rights are applicable only to migrant workers in a regular situation. However, the Convention does not exclude undocumented workers. It contains provisions for the just treatment of undocumented workers.

Human rights of migrant workers and members of their families

The Convention is not proposing new human rights exclusively for migrant workers. Part III of the Convention is a reiteration of the basic rights which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and elaborated in the international human rights treaties adopted by most nations.

So why are those rights subject to another International Legal Instrument?
The MWC seeks to draw the attention of the international community to the dehumanization of migrant workers and members of their families, many of whom are deprived of their basic human rights. Indeed, legislation implementing other basic treaties in some States utilizes terminology covering citizens and/or residents, de jura excluding many migrants, especially those in irregular situations.

Basic freedoms
Applying these fundamental rights to migrant workers and members of their families, the Convention provides for their right to leave and enter the State of origin (Art. I). The inhumane living and working conditions and physical (and sexual) abuse that many migrant workers must endure are covered by the reaffirmation of their "right to life" (Art. 9) and prohibition against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment (Art. 10) as well as slavery or servitude and forced or compulsory labor (Art. 11).
Migrant workers are also entitled to basic freedoms like the freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Art. 12), and the right to hold and express opinions (Art. 13). Their property should not be confiscated arbitrarily (Art. 15).

  • Due process
    The Convention then goes on to explain in detail the need to ensure due process for migrant workers and members of their families (Art. 16 - 20). Investigations, arrests and detentions are to be carried out in accordance with established procedures. Their right to equality with nationals of the State before the courts and tribunals must be respected. They must be provided with necessary legal assistance, interpreters and information in a language understood by them. When imposing a sentence, humanitarian considerations regarding the person's migrant status should be taken into account. The arbitrary expulsion of migrant workers is prohibited (Art. 22).
  • Right to privacy
    A migrant worker is entitled to his or her honor and reputation and also to privacy, which extends to one's home, family and all communications (Art. 14).
  • Equality with nationals
    Migrant workers are to be treated as equal to the nationals of the host country in respect of remuneration and conditions of work [overtime, hours of work, weekly rest, holidays with pay, safety, health, termination of work contract, minimum age, restrictions on home work, etc. (Art. 25)].
    Equality with nationals extends also to social security benefits (Art. 27) and emergency medical care (Art. 28).
  • Transfer of earnings
    On completion of their term of employment, migrant workers have the right to transfer their earnings and savings as well as their personal effects and belongings (Art. 32).
  • Right to information
    They have the right to be informed by the States concerned about their rights arising from the present Convention as well as the conditions of their admission, and their rights and obligations in those States. Such information should be made available to migrant workers free of charge and in a language understood by them (Art. 33).

Other rights of migrant workers and members of their families who are documented or in a regular situation

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