In the wake of the execution of Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek on 9th February 2013, accused of smothering an infant in her care in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the human rights of migrant workers have come to the forefront of the policy discussion on migration. This article discusses what the next step needs to be in developing a comprehensive governing framework for migrant labour, and argues that collective action is the strongest tool in the arsenal of sending countries in protecting migrant workers.
The Sri Lankan migrant workforce provides an important contribution to the economy. However, their contribution is being undervalued by a lack of existing institutional frameworks to maximize their potential whilst at the same time provide protectionary measures in the course of foreign employment. This is particularly significant for female migrant workers who are exposed to an alarmingly high rate of physical and sexual abuse. The proposed Budget 2012 changes provide an ample opportunity to rectify and minimize risks that are presently at a high level.
The phenomenon of international migration brings into play many sensitive issues of national security and identity, of social change and cultural adaptation, and of resource allocation. All these questions represent important challenges to migration policy makers. Policy choices made now will help to determine whether migration is managed to maximize its benefits, or whether it will continue to be a source of concern, potential social disruption and friction between States. The key is not to prevent mobility, but to manage it better