The Convention defines the rights
of migrant workers under two main headings:
- Human Rights of migrant workers
and members of their families (Part
- Other Rights of migrant workers
and members of their families (Part
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.
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.
- 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).
rights of migrant workers and members of their families who are
documented or in a regular situation
The text of this webpage is based on the website of Migrantsrights.org