The Global Digest



On 30th June 2022, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) issued a series of public announcements on its website inviting public comments about its intent to amend the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991. A day later it issued another Notification, again only in its website, inviting comments on amendments the Ministry proposed to India’s umbrella environmental law - Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. It did not stop there. On 9th July 2022, the Ministry issued yet another notification inviting public comments to amendments it proposed to the Indian Forest Act, 1927. All of these Notifications, which contained the text of the Bills proposing changes in existing law, were in English, and not in any of the Scheduled Languages of India - except in one instance when an Hindi translation was also provided.

Apart from the fact that the notifications were all issued only on the Ministry’s website and in English, the commenting period for the first four laws was merely 20 days and in the case of the Forest Act three weeks. The notification instructed that responses would be received by email or post. There was no effort whatsoever by the Ministry to reach out across the length and breadth of India in any form – be it by local advertisements drawing attention to the amendments proposed, or by requesting state governments to reach out through its district administrations. There was absolutely no effort made at all to ensure that the linguistically, geographically, culturally, politically diverse populations, living in diverse biogeographic zones in a massive country, had even a remotely reasonable chance to fathom the implications of what was being proposed and be able to respond with even a cursory application of mind. In effect, the notifications served the purpose of a ritual online ‘consultation’, which has become a pattern with the Ministry in recent years.

In much the same way, on 16th December 2021 the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was tabled in the Lok Sabha without any prior public debate or consultation. This had drawn widespread criticisms and there were nation-wide calls for open, public and democratic consultations and debates. Opposition members in Parliament supported this demand in the Lok Sabha and forced India’s Environment Minister Shri Bhupendra Yadav to refer it for review by a Joint Committee of both the Houses of Parliament. On being constituted, the Parliamentary Committee invited public comments on the Bill through major newspaper advertisements, and also extended the opportunity of a personal hearing to a cross-section of representatives from various sectors. Following this process, the Committee tabled its report in the Parliament on 2nd August 2022. Even as this process was underway, it was rather disconcerting that the Ministry had chosen to rush through major amendments to all of the other laws it administers in the manner described.

This approach which lacks any intent of engaging with the wide public, and also with State Governments and Legislatures, whilst amending existing laws, amounts to treating democratic decision making as a ritual and effectively sidesteps Constitutionally mandated federated system of governance. This is deeply worrying given changes proposed have far reaching and irreversible implications, and fundamentally alter the very characteristics of these environmental laws. Besides, the changes proposed would have a fundamental and probably irreversible bearing on India’s environmental jurisprudence, especially given that environmental laws have a direct and fundamental bearing on fundamental rights of peoples of India, particularly natural resource dependent communities.

Responding to this worrying situation, Environment Support Group in collaboration with Institute of Public Policy and Centre for Labour Studies of National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, organised a nation-wide half day hybrid consultation on the proposed amendments to India’s major environmental laws at NLSIU campus on 18th July, 2022. The workshop involved interventions from a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Legal Scholars, Political leaders, retired Senior Bureaucrats, Environmental Lawyers, Journalists, Social and Environmental Activists, Academicians, etc., and provided deeper insights into implications of the proposed amendments. There was unanimous agreement that proposed amendments were regressive and that they must be comprehensively rejected. On the basis of this discussion and agreement arrived at, a statement was issued calling on the Ministry to “Stop Destroying India’s Progressive Environment, Forest And Biodiversity Protection Jurisprudence”.

Despite all efforts, the Waste Workers (unorganized sector) are excluded from the management

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has a major objective of achieving 100% Scientific Solid Waste Management (SWM) across all the statutory towns in India. The revised rules (Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016) continue to emphasise upon the need to ensure source segregation as the most important prerequisite for the scientific and environmentally sound disposal of solid waste. We have seen an extensive deployment of collection, transportation and waste disposal technologies across Indian cities in the recent past. In most cases, adoption of the technological choices (Waste-to-Energy - WtE) appears to be reinforcing a centralised system of SWM. Waste management practices such as decentralised composting of wet waste and promotion of recycling through source segregation have become secondary to the deployment of WtE driven waste collection and transportation infrastructure across several Indian cities. It is also observed that compliance to environmental norms has also not been followed by the existing WtE plants. People residing in the vicinity of these plants are constantly complaining of health risks associated with the operation of these plants near residential areas. It is widely reported that existing WtE plants continue to burn mixed waste despite a number of judicial interventions in favour of compliance to the environmental norms.

Despite these odds, waste pickers continue to play a key role in the primary collection and segregation of the solid waste informally. In most cases, the formal system of waste management does not recognise the contribution of waste pickers. These informal waste collectors provide their services to the residents and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) without any recognition of their immense contribution in environmentally sound ways of managing the solid waste. Their services are utilised by the resident either at very low cost or in many cases free of cost. Due to constant ignorance of the ULBs, informal waste pickers are often subjected to the exploitation by the contractors in the waste management system at multiple levels. Their livelihood entirely depends upon the sale of recyclables that they recover from the segregation of the solid waste. The quality of their lives and livelihood opportunities remain unchanged despite recognition of their immense contribution in the policy documents. However, Waste pickers continue to get excluded from the waste management system. In several cases, waste pickers are thrown out of the city. For the same, a Community Roundtable on 2 October, 2021 at MCD Baraat Ghar, Nizammuddin Basti, New Delhi from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm was organised to deliberate upon the concerns and mechanisms. The Roundtable was attended by more than 100 waste pickers which included both men and women. The panelist included: • Mr. Rahul Karnamadakala Sharma- Centre for Policy Research (CPR) • Mr. Md. Mansoor Raza- Janpahal • Mr. Bhawani Shankar- Citizens for Clean Air, Gurugram • Baley Bhai- Independent Activist

The roundtable began with Mr. Shashi B. Pandit from DASAM who spoke about how the waste workers have not progressed since decades despite changes in laws or the administration. We were living in misery and continue to do so. He raised a question about why the waste workers are still kept away from the waste management system? The first speaker was Mr. Mansoor Raza (Janpahal) who began the session about the need for recognition for the unorganised sector. An identity card for the unorganised sector was deemed necessary for which a long battle was fought. The Supreme Court passed an order to the Central Govt. in which it has to form an inventory of the unorganised sector.He further elaborated about the E-Shram portal and card and anyone from the unorganised sector aged between 16yrs to 59yrs can register for it. A phone number and the adhaar card needs to be linked with the bank to receive its benefits. Mr. Bhawani from Citizens from Clean Air, Gurugram, showed a plastic bisleri bottle and said that we are from the category of people who produce waste. He shared a personal experience of his interaction with 3 siblings who were picking up waste. In his interaction, he asked the kids why they don’t go to school. The kids informed that they were beaten by the teachers as they used to pick up waste. He despaired at their condition and said that at the age where the kids should study and play, they were picking up waste for a decent livelihood and were scolded by the teacher. He further mentioned NREGA and the minimum employment guarantee in the rural areas which is not applicable throughout the country. Most of the workers migrate from rural to urban India in search of better livelihood and end up picking up waste due to no livelihood sources. Bhagani asked the workers to shift from being the workers unorganised to organised as their quality and quantity of work deserves dignity and respect.

Baley Bhai spoke about the exploitations that the waste workers face from the MCD and police officials where the workers have to pay them a small bounty to pick up waste. He said that the waste pickers are the real agents of ‘Swacch Bharat’ yet they are at the receiving end of exploitation and brutality. Mr. Rahul Karnamadakala Sharma from Centre for Policy Research (CPR) began speaking about technology and Waste to Energy (WTE) plants. He said that the countries where the WTE plant is operated only in places where most of the waste is dry. In India, however, most of the waste generated is wet waste and burning waste is not a viable solution. He elaborated waste mining and suggested alternatives through which waste can be managed instead of burning it in incinerators. Rahul laid stress on decentralised waste management and its implication for the waste pickers. Mr. Sidharth Singh from Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) spoke about the SWM Rules 2016 which speaks about bringing the informal sector into the mainstream and involving them in the waste management system. He also spoke about the knowledge that the waste workers have about plastics and how it can be recycled whereas this knowledge is missing from the masses. In the end, he concluded by saying that the workers when united can bring changes and make their demands heard. whereas if they remain organised, their work will continue to be looked down upon and deprive them of the earnings and respect they deserve. Mr. Sanjeev Kumar from DASAM spoke about the Swachh Bharat Mission, its second phase and how the workers who keep the city clean, live in hazardous and dirty environment. Despite living in central delhi, their neighbourhood is neglected. He concluded the roundtable by thanking the waste workers for their contribution towards the society and environment. The roundtable ended with the waste pickers sharing their grievances and daily day to day struggle.

Organized by: Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM); National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM); Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG); Institute for Democracy and Sustainability (IDS); Ambedkarvadi Lekhak Sangh (ALS); National Domestic Workers Union; Magadh Foundation, Shehri Mahila Kaamgar Union; All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh (AIKMM)

UP Govt must end arbitrary detentions, withdraw pending FIRs against activists

8th Feb: The recent order of the Allahabad High Court, passed by the Division Bench of Justices Ramesh Sinha and Rajeev Singh, dated 2nd February, 2021, concluding that the Uttar Pradesh Govt had no legal grounds to issue notices to large numbers of farmers and activists, preventing them from participating in peaceful protests is a significant landmark in upholding people’s constitutional right to protest and redress against whimsical administrative interference in the same. The court order clearly establishes the arbitrariness and violation of principles of natural justice in the process of notices issued by the UP Government on and after 19th January 2021, in the attempt to suppress farmers’ participation in the protests organized on 26th January.

The Order was issued in a PIL filed by social activist and NAPM Convenor Arundhati Dhuru, who approached the Court in the context of many such notices issued to farmers and workers associated with Sangatin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, Sitapur, under Sec 111 of the Cr.PC, merely on the basis of police apprehension of violation of ‘law and order’. The PIL demanded the quashing of notices against 163 farmers, including women, who had been asked to pay bonds between Rs 50,000 to Rs 10,00,000, and to provide two like sureties, to ensure that they would not take part in any kind of agitation or dharna. In addition to being patently arbitrary, these notices were grossly unjust and a mockery of the situation of already impoverished small and marginal farmers and workers, many of whom belong to Dalit and OBC communities. As is noted in the Order itself, when the Allahabad High Court asked the learned Addl Adv General on 2nd Feb to provide reasons as to why such prohibitive bonds were demanded by various Sub-Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) under the District Magistrate (DM), Sitapur, the AAG was unable to justify the action of the State. He, however, indicated that the proceedings in the said matter were ‘dropped’, since there was no longer a law and order risk. The AAG also undertook to instruct the Sitapur administration ‘to be careful in the future, to avoid unnecessary harassment to any person’.

Taking cognizance of the aforesaid, the Hon’ble Court disposed off the matter concluding that the administration’s ‘conduct should not be such which reflects arbitrariness and against the principles of natural justice’. NAPM welcomes the Order and hopes that the same would be considered in full letter and spirit across the state and the Govt would refrain from resorting to similar high-handed measures in the future, asking for bonds and sureties on flimsy, unjustified grounds. As is known, this is just one of the many recent attempts to prevent farmers, activists and concerned citizens from participating in solidarity action with the historic farmers’ protests. The Central Government, in particular, has been striving to prevent and then stop (albeit unsuccessfully) the Farmers’ Protests, ranging from attempts at defamation, to control of media reporting, detentions and arrests. The UP state government has also had a significant role to play in denying citizens their constitutional right to protest. A few weeks back activist and NAPM Convenor Richa Singh was unlawfully detained at her home for a couple of days. The Varanasi administration also filed a case under ‘Goondas Act’ against senior activist Ramjanam.

Very recently, on 6th February, the day when the national call for peaceful chakka-jam was given by the farmers’ movement, Suresh Rathod, of MNREGA Mazdoor Union, Varanasi, was detained at his home on the arbitrary grounds of potentially creating a breach of peace. His participation in the protests was prevented, as in multiple instances in the past. A few days prior to this, an FIR was registered against social activist Nandalal Master, along with Shyam Sundar, Amit, Panchmukhi Singh and Sunil Kumar and 25 other ‘unknown persons, for a peaceful village protest on 29th January, during which the effigy of the three anti-farmer acts was burnt. The archaic United Province Special Powers Act (1932) which was invoked in their case, has a history of being used in the state to quell protests, in particular protests against the BJP. The circumstances of the pandemic also make it possible to invoke the Disaster Management Act in a targeted way against anyone trying to organize, even when adequate precautions against Covid are taken. The convenient interpretation and use of legislation to suppress in particular protests against the centre are stark. We wish to re-assert here that legislation meant to enable addressing the pandemic situation should not interfere with people’s constitutional right to organize. In yet another poignant incident, an FIR was filed by the UP police against the grief-stricken family members of Baljindra Singh, a farmer who died at the protest site in Ghazipur, for draping his body in the tricolour. It must be recalled that a few years back, the body of one of the accused in the ‘Dadri lynching case’ was also draped in the tricolour, but that did not attract any legal action.

Read in the broader context of the State clampdown, the order of the Allahabad High Court comes as a reminder of the duty of the administration and the police to uphold the constitutional rights of citizens to organize and participate in peaceful democratic protests. State apparatuses cannot function as arbitrary, callous and biased forces suppressing voices of dissent. The order, in that sense, is a vindication of those who believe in democratic values. It is in line with the call issued by UNHRC on 5th February, emphasizing the need to protect the protestors’ right to peaceful assembly and expression. The State cannot use law as a tool of oppression to stifle mass outrage such as the recent farmers’ movement which is only growing stronger within UP and across the country.

We call upon the UP Govt. to reflect on the implications of the Hon’ble High Court’s order, in letter and spirit, and cease its attempts to muzzle democratic protests, end arbitrary detentions and arrests and withdraw all malafide FIRs. We also urge the government to stop what has become an all-pervasive practice of repression of all dissenting voices. Democratic protests against undemocratic laws and practices will not stop. We call upon all sections of citizens and democratic groups to remain ever vigilant and raise their voices in safeguarding our fundamental rights to organize and dissent, peacefully. We continue to stand in solidarity with the farmers’ protests across the country including lakhs of farmers from various parts of UP and remain steadfast in the demand for complete repeal of the three farm laws.

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Dr. Sunilam, Adv. Aradhna Bhargava, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti; Rajkumar Sinha, Chutka Parmaanu Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Madhya Pradesh; Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information; Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL); Kailash Meena NAPM Rajasthan; Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan; Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi Jan Parishad & Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, Manorama, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti; Lingaraj Pradhan, Satya Banchor, Anant, Kalyan Anand, Arun Jena, Trilochan Punji, Lakshimipriya Mohanty and Balakrishna Sand, Manas Patnaik, NAPM Odisha; Sandeep Pandey (Socialist Party of India); Richa Singh & Rambeti (Sangatin Kisaan Mazdoor Sangathan, Sitapur); Rajeev Yadav & Masihuddin bhai (Rihai Manch, Lucknow & Azamgadh); Arundhati Dhuru & Zainab Khatun (Mahila Yuva Adhikar Manch, Lucknow), Suresh Rathaur (MNREGA Mazdoor Union, Varanasi); Arvind Murti & Altamas Ansari (Inquilabi Kamgaar Union, Mau), Jagriti Rahi (Vision Sansthan, Varanasi); Satish Singh (Sarvodayi Vikas Samiti, Varanasi); Nakul Singh Sawney (Chal Chitra Abhiyan, Muzaffarnagar); NAPM Uttar Pradesh P. Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union-APVVU, Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI and NAPM, Chakri (Samalochana), Balu Gadi, Bapji Juvvala, NAPM Andhra Pradesh; Jeevan Kumar & Syed Bilal (Human Rights Forum), P. Shankar (Dalit Bahujan Front), Vissa Kiran Kumar & Kondal (Rythu Swarajya Vedika), Ravi Kanneganti (Rythu JAC), Ashalatha (MAKAAM), Krishna (Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika-TVV), M. Venkatayya (Telangana Vyavasaya Vruttidarula Union-TVVU), Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana; Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union; Maj Gen (Retd) S.G.Vombatkere, NAPM, Nalini Gowda, KRRS, Nawaz, Dwiji Guru, Nalini, Madhu Bhushan and Mamatha Yajaman, Susheela, Shashank, NAPM Karnataka Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai; Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation; Suthanthiran, Lenin, Inamul Hasan, Arul Doss, Vikash NAPM Tamilnadu; Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan, Prof. Kusumam Joseph, Sharath Cheloor, Vijayaraghavan Cheliya, Majeendran, Magline, NAPM, Kerala; Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-Moolnivasi Astivtva Raksha Samiti; Basant Hetamsaria, Aloka Kujur, Dr. Leo A. Singh, Afzal Anish, Sushma Biruli, Durga Nayak, Jipal Murmu, Priti Ranjan Dash, Ashok Verma, NAPM Jharkhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Swati Desai, Krishnakant, Parth, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti; Nita Mahadev, Mudita, Lok Samiti; Dev Desai, Mujahid Nafees, Ramesh Tadvi and Bharat Jambucha, NAPM Gujarat; Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan sangathan; Jabar Singh, Uma, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Manshi Asher and Himshi Singh, Himdhara, NAPM Himachal Pradesh Eric Pinto, Abhijeet, Tania Devaiah, Caroline, Diana Tavers, Emil, Francesca, NAPM Goa Gautam Bandopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha; Kaladas Dahariya, RELAA, Alok Shukla, Shalini Gera, NAPM Chhattisgarh; Samar Bagchi, Amitava Mitra, Binayak Sen, Sujato Bhadro, Pradip Chatterjee, Pasarul Alam, Amitava Mitra, Tapas Das, Tahomina Mandal, Pabitra Mandal, Kazi Md. Sherif, Biswajit Basak, Ayesha Khatun, Rupak Mukherjee, Milan Das, Asit Roy, Mita Bhatta, Yasin, Matiur Rahman, Baiwajit Basa, NAPM West Bengal; Suniti SR, Sanjay M G, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe, Mukta Srivastava, Yuvraj Gatkal, Geetanjali Chavan, Bilal Khan, Jameela, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan; Chetan Salve, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Pervin Jehangir, NAPM Maharashtra; J S Walia, NAPM Haryana; Guruwant Singh, Narbinder Singh, NAPM Punjab; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan; Mahendra Yadav, Kosi Navnirman Manch; NAPM Bihar; Rajendra Ravi, NAPM; Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini; Anjali Bharadwaj and Amrita Johri, Satark Nagrik Sangathan; Sanjeev Kumar, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch; Anita Kapoor, Delhi Shahri Mahila Kaamgaar Union; Sunita Rani, National Domestic Workers Union; Nanhu Prasad, National Cyclist Union; Madhuresh Kumar, Priya Pillai, Aryaman Jain, Divyansh Khurana, Evita Das; Anil TV, Delhi Solidarity Group, MJ Vijayan (PIPFPD)

Supreme Court Hearing Tomorrow on Petition Reg Migrant Workers Issues by Medha Patkar & Ors

Supreme Court of India

The Petition on Migrant Workers' issues filed by NAPM is to be heard tomorrow i.e. May 28th and has been clubbed with suo moto case by SC. Medha Patkar and others plead for the Right to life through food, transport, cash deposit, till return of normalcy. Medha Patkar & Ors. of National Alliance of Peoples' Movements, have filed a Writ Petition on the serious issue of migrants, which is listed tomorrow in the Supreme Court.

The Writ Petition was filed on 16.05.2020, in which the Central Government as well as States/UTs have been impleaded as parties. The Writ Petition notes with utter shock the heart rendering plight of the poor and migrant labourers (including women-pregnant women and children) who are facing untold sufferings which is beyond narration and can move any sensitive individual. The Petition acknowledges that only recently some movements of trains/buses have started, but the people are still walking on the roads without proper food, drinking water, shelter and lakhs are stranded in different parts of the country, awaiting for some mode of transport to reach their homes. All this is happenning due to lack of planning and coordination between the different Ministries/Wings of the Central Government and the State Governments, which has resulted in continuous denial of basic rights of survival guaranteed to the people under our Constitution.

The human rights jurisprudence places the right to food as the most important among all other rights. The State is constitutionally bound to provide food as a matter of right to the poor and hungry especially in the present complex situation. The poor migrant labourers are also entitled to reach their homes safely and securely, which in fact is a part of survival only. The Petition emphasises that the Constitution imposes a solemn duty on the Supreme Court, being the highest court of the largest democracy of the world, to be vigilant and ensure that even under normal circumstances the basic rights of the people on which life depends should not be impaired in any manner whatsoever. The duties and obligations of this Hon’ble Court in the extra-ordinary situation like the present increases manifold.

This Hon’ble Court must ensure that all schemes and programmes of the Central Government and State Governments are in tune and harmony and that such programmes/schemes have an inherent mechanism by which relief is ensured to every individual migrant. These schemes and programmes should be so transparent that at any juncture the Central and State Government should be able to answer any question and is ready to take complete responsibility on itself. These schemes/programmes require continuous monitoring, by this Hon’ble Court with the help of different High Courts in the country, state instrumentalities as well as the NGOs, as denial would mean continued violation of basic rights of the poor. The Petition states that it has to be ensured that the schemes/ programmes are so implemented that no migrant person should suffer and in case anybody does, his/her complaint should be heard and redressed promptly in a transparent manner.

These are the basic minimum rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution which include, besides the civil and political rights, the economic, social and cultural rights, for which redressal can be sought under Article 32 of the Constitution. The Petition points out that the right to move this Hon’ble Court against infringement of the fundamental right is itself a fundamental right and that it is not merely a right of an individual to move this Hon’ble Court, but, it is also a duty of this Hon’ble Court to enforce those guaranteed rights. This Hon’ble Court has emphasized repeatedly and rightly that it is the duty of this court to ensure that the rights of poor and downtrodden are protected and that no discrimination is allowed between the have and have–nots. The Petitioners have given suggestions regarding framing of a uniform and coordinated scheme to address promptly the problems of migrant workers.

The Petitioners have also pointed out that the present situation will result in creating famine like situation in absence of purchasing power and most of the migrant workers having small land holdings, even if they reach home and, therefore, a continuous duty/obligation is cast on the state to provide food security, medicine, cash deposits and other facilities till the situation becomes normal, which is necessary for bare survival of human being. The Supreme Court has recently taken suo moto cognisance of the similar issue and issued notices to the Union of India, The States & UT’s. On request of the Petitioners the Writ Petition has now been listed along with the Suo Motu Matter tomorrow, 28th May, 2020.

Sanjay Parikh, Senior Advoacte assisted by Abhimanue Shrestha, AOR would assist the Hon’ble Court on behalf of the Petitioners. Mahendra Yadav(Bihar), Sanjay M.G. (Maharashtra), Anand Mazgaonkar (Gujarat), Arundhati Dhuru (UP). For any further details, contact: Ph: 09423571784 / 9869984803

NAPM expresses shock and grief at the tragic death of 10 NREGA women workers in Telangana

Bodies of NREGA women workers

Demands judicial probe and official accountability for avoidable loss of lives!

12th April: National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) is deeply shocked and pained to know of the tragic, on-site death of 10 NREGA women workers two days back in Teeleru, Telangana, primarily due to official apathy. This is in addition to another woman worker Ch. Lakshmi battling for life and 5 other women injured, even as officials estimate an increase in casualties. We express our most sincere condolences to the families of all the deceased women; Anuradha (30), Bheemamma (34), G. Buddhamma (36), B. Lakshmi (32), K. Lalamma (36), M. Lingamma (34), Ch. Ananthamma (42), P. Shekharamma (50), B. Ananthamma (54) and Ch. Lakshmi (42) in this moment of untold misery.

As per survivor accounts and field reports, the incident occurred at about 10:30 am on the morning of 10th April, at the Y.Tippagutta NREGA worksite, Teeleru panchayat, Marikal Mandal, Narayanpet Dist, when after completion of trench digging work in the scorching heat, 30 workers were taking rest at the foot of a small hillock. It was at this moment that about 30 tractor-load mounds of mud and clay pellets came cascading on them, leading to the immediate death of the 10 women workers. While lack of safe shades for rest seems to be the primary reason for this tragedy, it also appears that irresponsible excavation work by the contractor has triggered the deaths.

Organizations associated with NAPM in Telangana including Dalit Bahujan Front, Samalochana, Upadhi Hami Phone Radio, Telangana Vyavasaya Vruttdarula Union as well as national platforms like the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, have for over a decade now, been raising concerns related to safety and welfare of NREGA workers, which have not been adequately taken on board and addressed by the authorities. This incident is a cruel and unforgivable consequence of the neglect of the same.

Refusal of the Govt. to provide something as basic as heat-resistant cloth tents (instead of plastic) at the work-site, which probably could have saved these 10 valuable lives, speaks volumes about the official insensitivity and priorities of a state, for who the working class and oppressed castes are often a mere vote-bank constituency, a number that is dispensable! That even plastic sheets have not been distributed to workers at many sites exposes further the disregard for workers rights.

Provisioning of safety shades is a mandatory requirement under the NREGA Act and Rules, 2005 (Schedule II, Clause 23). The fact that despite multiple reminders and appeals by civil society groups to the Telangana Govt. to provide cloth tents, the same was not provided, leads us to conclude that this was a tragedy waiting to happen. Therefore, the Govt. and the Chief Minister cannot shirk their responsibility and accountability for these deaths, by calling this an 'unfortunate accident'.

We welcome the prompt and suo-moto intervention[1] of the National Human Rights Commission in this regard, calling for a detailed report within four weeks from the Government of Telangana including “action taken against guilty, relief and rehabilitation to the families of the victims and status of the safety measures at such sites where deep digging is conducted”. We hope the Commission will pursue this matter in right earnest to ensure action against those responsible and justice to the deceased and their families.

In the light of this tragic incident, NAPM demands:

a) A minimum of Rs. 50 lakhs as compensation to the families of each of the deceased women, to be disbursed within a week. Govt. must assume full responsibility for the education of the children of the deceased as well as health care of injured workers.

b) Registration of FIR against officials and contractors legally responsible for provision of employment and safety at the concerned worksite.

c) An independent judicial probe into the circumstances leading to the tragic death and fixing accountability at the highest levels of administrative and political decision-making.

d) Immediate audit / review of status of implementation of labour laws as well as rights and entitlements (including shades / cloth tents) at all the NREGA work-sites and provision of the same in terms of the NREGA Act, Rules and notifications of the Union Ministry or Rural Development.

Importance of Immediately Launching National Centrally-funded Programme of Universal Agricultural Land-distribution to all Rural SC families, and also all Rural ST and non-SC-non-ST Landless Agricultural Labour Families with Group Minor Irrigation and Stoppage of Further Deprivation of STs of their Lands and Restoration of their Lost Lands & Related Measures

Special Contribution
By P. S. Krishnan

Land reform failed in India

I. Land for All Rural Landless SC Families – and along with them, also for all rural landless agricultural labour ST families and all other rural landless and poor agricultural labour families – the Methodology of Task Forces

(1) This will • fulfill the promise of “Land to the Tiller” of the pre-Independence nationalist movement for Independence, • Initiate and complete action on the decade-old Governors’ Committee Report which has been put on the backburner. The Governors’ Committee, under the Chairmanship of the late Dr P. C. Alexander, has shown that there is enough agricultural land with the Government to provide a viable extent of agricultural land to all rural SC families. In the Report of the Sub-Group-I, mentioned below, I have taken into account the Bhoodan lands and shown that there is enough for all non-SC rural landless agricultural labour families also. Some of these lands are alkaline/saline, like the large extents of usarlands in Uttar Pradesh, and they can be reclaimed by available technology and MNREGA labour. • Initiate and complete action on the Report of the Group of Ministers on Dalit Affairs (2008) set up in 2005 under the Chairmanship of the then Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee, which made a recommendation in this regard, and which has also been consigned to the backburner. (2) To complete this long neglected and long-delayed task, essential for striking at the plight of the vast majority of SC families, the Task Force method suggested and detailed in the Report (dated 1-8-2011) of the Sub-Group-I (with Shri P. S. Krishnan as Chairman) of the Planning Commission and Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment’s Working Group on Empowerment of Scheduled Castes during XII Plan (hereafter “Sub-Group-I”) should be adopted.

(3) Briefly the Task Force method involves setting up in each Tehsil/Taluk of a small group of empowered officers, namely, a special Tahsildar, a Surveyor and, where necessary, a police officer, with all functional facilities like a jeep, who will go to each village and provide land for every landless SC family by (i) Giving patta to those SC families which are in occupation of Government land for cultivation; and along with them also to landless ST and non-SC-non-ST landless agricultural labour families. (ii) Evicting ineligible occupants of Government land and giving patta with possession to landless SC families; and after providing for SC families, to all landless ST and non-SC-non-ST agricultural labour families. (iii) Taking stock of all Government lands which can be straightaway assigned / allotted to landless SC families (locally called by names like Assessed Wastes, Gair-mazaruva-Aam), Bhoodan lands etc, and after providing for SC families, to all landless ST and non-SC-non-ST agricultural labour families. (iv) Where publicly owned lands are not adequate, by purchase of private land and land acquisition (for latter, a small amendment in the definition of “public purpose” in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 will be required. (4) This is extremely important for SCs as they have historically emerged as a collectivity of castes prohibited from owning land and, therefore, even now are the largest component of rural landless labour families. (5) Along with SCs, all rural ST agricultural labour families and non-SC-non-ST rural landless agricultural labour families should also be provided, using Task-Force method on a village to village basis.

II. Irrigation for all Unirrigated but Irrigable Lands of SCs, and along with them also of STs

These two measures along with legislative and other measures for prevention of grabbing of SC lands by others will, at one stroke, enable rural SC families to • become economically self-sufficient; • liberate themselves from humiliating wage-labour, • prevent exposure of their women to labour in others’ fields and compulsion to fall back on child labour to supplement the meagre family income; • improve nutrition, especially that of pregnant and lactating mothers and children, reduce birth underweight and child malnutrition, sharply reduce neonatal, infant and child mortality and release all their children to go to schools where they should be – in all these parameters the figures for the SCs and STs are worse than those for many sub-Saharan African countries and, therefore, the overall figures for India are shameful. This will also • enable them to resist “Untouchability” without fear for the next meal (at present if they cross the line of “Untouchability” or complain against illegal discrimination, they have to face social and economic boycott and sometimes even atrocities including massacres as in Kilvenmani, Tamil Nadu, BathaniTola and Laxmanpur Bathe, both in Bihar, in all of which all the accused were acquitted, and numerous other instances in different States) and • the additional production from their lands will remove all doubts and anxieties about adequacy of supplies of subsidized food under the recently enacted National Food Security Act, 2013. There is sufficient number of successful examples of this transformation in parts of the country, but what is required is a nation-wide comprehensive programme which can be completed in a short period if the political and administrative heads of the Central and State Governments are determined and goal-oriented. The two programmes above were included in the UPA’s CMP of 2004 and were also solemn commitments of the President of India in his Address to the Joint Session of the Parliament in 2004, but no attempt has been made to undertake them and accomplish them till now, despite my periodic reminders.

III. Stopping of the deprivation of STs of their lands and restoration of their lost lands

Unlike the SCs, the STs are not a landless class. They have traditionally been owners / collective owners of lands in their territorial homeland. But, after the commodification of land during the colonial rule, their lands are being grabbed by non-tribals. The pace of this dispossession has increased after Independence. On account of tribal revolts like the Santhal rebellion in Bihar (now Jharkhand) and RampaFituris in the tribal tracts of coastal Andhra, certain protective regulations prohibiting transfer of ST lands in tribal areas to non-tribals were enacted. Subsequently in some States legislation to the same effect were enacted. These regulations and legislations now cover 12 States. Such regulations and legislations have to be enacted where they do not exist. Where they exist and where they will be enacted in future, the provisions have to be tightened. Restoration of lost lands of tribals needs to be completed in one or two years. It will be possible if the Task-Force method is adopted, with a Special Tehsildar and Surveyor for every Tehsil/Taluk in the country which are in the tribal areas or in which there are tribal areas.

IV. Land Banks for SCs and STs

Once education at all levels is made really accessible and affordable for SCs and STs, and once health and medical care is made universally available, accessible and affordable for all SCs and STs, and once economic measures are fully in position to give them adequate economic competence, there would normally be no reason for SC and ST families to sell their lands under distress conditions. However, even after this, and in spite of the legislation proposed for prohibiting purchase or occupation of SC lands by non-SCs and the Scheduled Tribes Land Transfer Regulations / Legislations, existing and proposed, there may be situations in which some SCs, and STs, may have inevitably to sell their lands. To provide for such contingencies, a land bank should be established by the Govt. of India in each State for buying such lands from them at the market rate and making such lands available to other SCs and STs so that the total pool of lands with SCs and STs is not depleted.

AAPI condemns the brutal murder of Indian American Psychiatrist

Dr. Achutha Reddy

Appeals to Trump Admin. to prevent violence against physicians and bring to justice those behind the murder

Chicago, IL: September 165, 2017: “AAPI is heartbroken over the loss of Dr. Achutha Reddy and want to express our hearty condolences and prayers to his family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his dear family. Dr. Reddy’s death is a tragic loss to our medial fraternity,” Dr. Gautam Samadder, President of American Association of Physicians of India Origin (AAPI) said here today. In a statement issued here Dr. Gautam Samadder condemned the brutal murder of 57-year-old Achutha Reddy. He urged the US administration and the local leadership to bring to justice those behind the cruel murder of the Indian American physician who had dedicated all his life for serving the sick, the disabled and those with mental health issues.

“We at AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the nation, urge the US administration to make all the efforts possible to prevent violence against medical professionals and enable them to continue to serve the country with dignity, pride and security,” The Indian American psychiatrist was found dead on September 13 in the alley behind his East Wichita, Kansas office, his body covered with multiple stab wounds. Police arriving at the Holistic Psychiatry Clinic pronounced Dr. Reddy dead at the scene. About 17 minutes after the first call to report Reddy’s death, the department received a call from a security guard at the Wichita Country Club, reporting a young male sitting in a car with blood all over his body. Police arrived at the country club and arrested Umar Rashid Dutt, who is also Indian American. Dutt, 21, has been charged with first-degree murder and is currently being held at Sedgwick County Jail in Kansas, on a $1 million surety bond.

The police officer reported that Dr. Reddy was found with multiple stab wounds on his upper body. Dr Reddy a prominent Psychiatrist, was also a specialist in absolute yoga, a type of yoga which connects mind, body and breath and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Holistic Psychiatric Hospital released a statement Sept. 14. “Yesterday, we experienced a great loss in our lives,” wrote psychotherapist Brenda Trammel. “Dr. Reddy was an amazing, compassionate man who was kind and loving to anyone he met.” “He thought of himself as our father and his job was to guide us to do well in our lives,” wrote Trammel, adding: “He expected the best from us, and we gave it to him with the same abandon he gave to us.” Hailing from Nalgonda district in Telangana, Reddy graduated from Osmania Medical College in 1986. He later moved to the U.S., where he completed his residency in psychiatry from the University of Kansas Medical School in Wichita.

Recalling that from ancient times, physicians across the world have been revered for dedicating their lives for the noble mission of preventing people from getting and saving millions of lives of people from illnesses, Dr. Samadder said. “We as a community of physicians and individual members of this fraternity have decided to go into the medical profession with the best of intentions. We as physicians want to help people, ease suffering and save lives. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership.”

Expressing shock that despite these noble intentions, many doctors and nurses put their own lives on the line in the course of their jobs, facing attacks from the very people they are trying to help. The members of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), an umbrella organization which has nearly 110 local chapters, specialty societies and alumni organizations, with over 35 years of history of dedicated services to their motherland and the adopted land, are appalled at the growing violence against our fellow physicians, Dr. Samadder said. “We strongly condemn this ongoing violence. And we want immediate action against the culprits, who have been carrying on these criminal acts. We are shocked by the lack of coherent action against such violence and protect members of this noble fraternity.” For more information on AAPI, please visit:

The Observatory: Viet Nam: Arbitrary detention of labour and land rights defender Ms. Tran Thi Nga

Ms. Tran Thi Nga on the day of her arrest (21 January 2017)

PARIS-GENEVA, January 24, 2017 (THE OBSERVATORY & VCHR) - The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Viet Nam.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) about the arbitrary arrest and detention of labour and land rights defender Ms. Tran Thi Nga. According to the information received, on January 21, 2017, the police arrested Ms. Tran Thi Nga at her home in Phu Ly, Ha Nam Province, searched her house, and confiscated several of her personal items. On the same day, Ms. Tran Thi Nga’s partner Mr. Luong Dan Ly, a pro-democracy activist and blogger, was also arrested. He was released the following day.

Ms. Tran Thi Nga was subsequently charged under Article 88 of the Criminal Code (1) (“spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam”). On their website, police said that Ms. Tran Thi Nga used the Internet “to spread some propaganda videos and writings that are against the Government of the Social Republic of Viet Nam”. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in jail.

Ms. Tran Thi Nga has been the target of frequent assaults by security agents because of her human rights activities. In 2014, her leg was broken during an altercation with the police. In the days prior to her arrest, Ms. Tran Thi Nga complained of increasing police intimidation and harassment, including surveillance of her home and being physically stopped from leaving her house. Police also prevented a neighbour from taking the couple’s two young sons to the city to buy them food. The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention of Ms. Tran Thi Nga, as well as the charges against her, which seem to be aimed at sanctioning her legitimate and peaceful human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Vietnamese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release her and to drop all charges against her. Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Viet Nam urging them to: i. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Tran Thi Nga as her detention is arbitrary since it only seems to merely sanction her human rights activities; ii.Guarantee in all circumstances her physical and psychological integrity as well as that of all human rights defenders in Viet Nam; iii. Put an end to all acts harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Tran Thi Nga, as well as against all human rights defenders in Viet Nam; iv. Amend Article 88 of the Criminal Code, to bring it in conformity with international human rights standards; v. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2; vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Viet Nam.

Addresses: • Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam; Fax: 84-4-38231872 – 84-4-37992682, Email: • Mr. Le Vinh Tan, Minister of Home Affairs of Viet Nam, Fax: 84-4-39781005 • Mr. Le Thanh Long, Minister of Justice of Viet Nam, Fax: 84-4-38431431 • Mr. To Lam, Minister of Public Security of Viet Nam, Fax: 84-4-9420223 • Mr. Mai Tien Dung, Minister, Office of the Government (OOG), Viet Nam; Fax: 84-4-8044130 • Mr. Chi Dung Duong, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Viet Nam to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Fax: +41 (0) 22-798 07 24; Email: • Mr. Vuong Thua Phong, Ambassador, Embassy of of Viet Nam in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 (0)2 374 93 76; Email: - Please also write to the embassies of Viet Nam in your respective country.

The Korean Chuseok Holiday and I with "Friends of All Nations"

By Jeremy Metzger
Staff Writer
Sep 20, 2016

At the badminton court

The Korean Chuseok Holiday held on September 15, in this year. This is my first experienced Chuseok Holidays as a foreigner.

I eyed the birdie dropping straight toward my forehead. I swung my badminton racket, and the birdie sailed over the net and dive-bombed on the other side. As the birdie returned, this time across the court, I jumped forward, only to miss by a hair.

Outside I heard basketballs bouncing off rims and players of many languages shouting. As I braced myself for the serve, I thought of the other players at the other complexes that day. There was soccer, volleyball, cricket, and more. It was the Chuseok Sports Day.

In July of 2001, Pastor David Jun started a home mission organization in Korea called Friends of All Nations (FAN). It ministers mostly to Filipinos right now, but it is open to all nationalities. During the Korean holiday of Chuseok, when most Korean families are gathered at the eldest relative’s house, eating and celebrating life, the migrant workers and other foreigners here have nowhere to go.

Jeremy receving a prize

So, fifteen years ago, the leaders of FAN decided they would hold a large sports festival during the week of Chuseok. This gives foreigners a wholesome way to spend their time, and it gives FAN the contact information of many people. FAN will follow up with these individuals later. Since I am doing some short-term mission work for FAN, I decided to join in the fun.

Sports sure do bring people together, and this time it brought me face to face with excellent athletes. I was my first time playing badminton, so I had to keep asking them where to stand and whose point it was. Despite my best efforts, I lost both singles rounds.

I decided to take a breather and walked off the badminton court to the basketball court. This game was more popular. Teams from Thailand, Vietnam, China, and the Philippines all dodged and jumped for first prize. The Filipinos especially love basketball. I watched them float around defensive players and execute incredible layups like they were born doing it!

Around lunch time, I had my first real conversation with a Muslim. He was a great badminton player from Indonesia, and we talked for twenty minutes. We talked of sports, politics, religion, everything. All on a casual trip to a badminton court!

After the various events were concluded, we all gathered at the soccer stadium. I have never seen so many people from so many different nationalities all in one place. We sat down on the turf, and pride radiated from players’ faces as each winning team took back a trophy or prize to their nationality. Since I won two doubles matches in badminton, I actually won a small prize, too.

The Chuseok Sports Day is a great way for FAN to make connections. And it was a great way for me to see how much work goes into ministry and how much fun it can be. This experience has helped me learn the importance of relationships, whether formed through church, work, or badminton.

What India can learn from Australia on domestic violence?

Special Contribution
By Dr. Pushkar Raj

Domestic violence victims in migrant communities

One social parallel that can be drawn between two dissimilar countries like India and Australia is rampant family violence in both the countries. As Australia is fighting the menace vigorously, India can learn a few lessons from it, giving some relief to its about 500 million strong female population, majority of which go through the humiliation of domestic violence, sometime or the other, in their life.

An analysis by Australia’s National Research for Women’s Safety in 2012 revealed that one in five Australian women, aged over 15, experienced sexual violence and one in three experienced physical violence from an intimate partner. Every year 80 to 100 women are killed in the country by their former or current partners. 81 in 2014(ABC) News, 4 May 2015).

The situation is worse in India as the scope of violence against women here is vast–from pre-birth to death. A United Nations in India Report (2013), Masculinity, Son Preference and Intimate Partner Violence, stated that 34 percent women (aged 18-39) experienced physical, emotional and sexual violence in their family in previous one year. India's National Family Health Survey-III, carried out in all states (2005-06), found that nationwide 37.2 percent women experienced violence after marriage. 63 per cent of urban women suffered abuse indicating urbanization means more domestic violence for women. Delhi government’s women helpline receives about 13,600 calls in a month, nearly 90 percent of which are reportedly of domestic violence - women who are unsafe in their own homes (Hindustan Times, 14 September 2012).

In Australia, however, the debate and action on the issue of domestic violence has intensified recently after an incident in February 2012. Luke Batty, an 11 year old Melbourne boy was killed at a cricket ground by his father who was separated from his former partner- Luke’s mother Rossie Batty. The tragedy underlined a pervasive social problem in the country with which a large number of women identified, pouring support for Rossie Batty’s public campaign against domestic violence. The government also set up a Royal Commission on Domestic Violence in Victoria that made 217 recommendations (April 2016) including an awareness programme targeting children and including it in school curriculum. The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called family violence a national problem committing $100 million to fight it, while premier of Victoria committed $ 500 million in the current state budget to fund preventive and protective measures to combat domestic violence in the state (ABC News, 13 April 2016).

In India, however, no such government seriousness and financial support is seen despite passing of prevention of domestic violence legislation in 2005. After six years , in 2012-13 budget, the government allocated Rs. 20 crores for its implementation but the money remained unspent because there was no programme of action. Since then there has been a silence in government circles on the issue. In the 2015-16 budgets also, there are no financial provisions for preventing domestic violence. On the contrary, the ministry of women and child development, a nodal agency for women centric programmes, received 17,408 crores in the current budget over 17,352 crore last year – an increase of 0.32 per cent ( Government of India budget, 2012 and 2016), while Indian economy grew by about 7 per cent during this period!

Apart from raising serious questions about women’s share in economic prosperity of the country, it also signifies government’s indifference to women protection and welfare in the country. Irrespective of political party in power, the governments have been reluctant to increase spending on women empowerment programmes contrary to loud claims in international forums such as Commission on the Status of Women in United Nations (Maneka Gandhi, Minister for women and child development, Hindu, 16 March 2016).

It is a serious policy lapse as the protection of women at home has an enormous economic implications for the society. A report of Copenhagen consensus on conflict and violent assessment (2014) estimated that the domestic violence costs the world $8 trillion annually. Given India’s about 3 per cent contribution in the world economy it translates into whopping $240 billion per annum. Even a little reduction in domestic violence in the country therefore, has a rich economic dividend and an adequate investment in this area makes a sound economic sense.

Socially, domestic violence is a ‘standalone’ problem which, Rossie Batty, the Australian of the year (2015), called ‘terrorism in family’. It requires to be confronted and prevented in real time to break a cycle. It is shown that the children who witness domestic violence are more likely to perpetrate or accept family violence when they are adults (UN Report on Gender 2012), thus perpetuating control, patriarchy and disrespect for women in a family. To break this chain there is a need of creating awareness programmers and institutional structure for which a liberal funding is urgently required.

Australia, as an economically developed country has recognized that material prosperity is no guarantee to a civilized and happy life if socially the family remains a violent and barbaric unit. It has realized that the domestic violence is a deep social problem that requires to be fought legally and socially matching words with financial commitments. India also should follow its example by heavily investing in women protection and development measures. Sooner it does, earlier it will reap the fruits of modernity that it aspires.

The writer is a Melbourne based human rights researcher and writer. Formerly he taught political science in Delhi University and was the national general secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

Foreigners living in Korean can receive legal advice from Community Lawyer for free of charge

Infographic on ‘Community Lawyer for Foreigners’

- jointly operated by the MOJ, the MOI and the Korea Bar Association - in test operation in 10 foreigners residential concentrations

‘Community Lawyer for Foreigners’ went into service on October 5 to help foreigners living in Korea recover their legal right.

- Foreigners living in Korea are suffering from a wide range of legal issues including divorces, lease agreements, damages from crimes, and unpaid wages. But due to language barrier and lack of information, they are left out of the reach of legal services. ※ 6,389 foreigners were in family litigation (2013), 12,021 filed petition for unpaid wages (2014), and 5,674 suffered industrial accidents (2013). ※ As of Aug 2015, there are approximately 1.8 million foreigners residing in Korea (accounting for 3.6% of the Korean population).

Infographic on Designated Districts (10)

- Taking into account the reality where foreigners are no better than living in ‘no legal service town’, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, and the Korea Bar Association decided to expand the reach of ‘community Lawyer’ to include foreigners. ‘Community Lawyer’ is in service in every rural town (Eup) and township (Myeon) of the Korean administrative division. ‘Community Lawyer for Foreigners’ is in test operation in 10 districts with an established community for foreigners. They are selected from metropolitan areas where the vast majority of foreigners reside.

- 10 designated districts are as follows : Daelim 2-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu (Yanbian Street), Gwanhui-dong, Jung-gu (Mongol Town and Central Asian village), Hyehwa-dong, Jongno-gu (Filipino Street), Changshin 1-dong, Jongno-gu (Nepal Street) in Seoul-si, : Daewon-dong, Osan-si (residential area for ethnic Koreans), Sunbu 2-dong, Danwon-gu, Ansan-si (Koryo village), Gwangjeok-myeon, Yangju-si (Cambodian, Vietnamese) in Gyeonggi-do

- Approximately 5~7 out of a total 57 community lawyers for foreigners appointed by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, and the Korea Bar Association, are assigned to a district. Immigration Contact Center (hereinafter referred to as 1345 Call Center), an affiliated body of the Ministry of Justice, supports the operation of ‘Community Lawyer for Foreigners’ by providing interpretation service.

* 1345 Call Center offers counseling in 20 languages to help foreign nationals in Korea address their adjustment concerns. Annually 2.4 million counseling requests are being made.

- Counseling services are available to all immigrants, regardless of their legal or illegal status. You can call 1345 (directly without area code) to make an appointment for legal counseling.

- Upon receipt the request, the center will schedule a counseling appointment with a community lawyer in your district. The center will provide interpretation services on the pre-scheduled date and time using the 3-party call service.

‘Community Lawyer for Foreigners’ is aimed at offering a customized legal aid extending a helping hand of justice to foreigners with limited access to legal services. The operation is expected to support their successful adjustment to Korean society and promote respect for law and order, getting one step closer to establishing rule of law based on trust of our nation.

The 8th Together Day (May 20) Commemorative Ceremony - Vibrant Korea Where Immigrants' Potential Can Bloom!

May 20, 2015

At the 8th Together Day Ceremony

The Ministry of Justice (Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn) held the 8th Together Day Commemorative Ceremony in the Grand Auditorium of Gwacheon Civic Center on May 20, 2015. It was attended by around 900 people including Hwang Kyo-ahn, the Minister of Justice, Kim Hoe-sun, legislator, Gwon Yonghyun, the Vice Minister of Gender Equality & Family, and 5 ambassadors.

Ministry of Justice Hwang Kyo-ahn

The Minister of Justice said in his commemorative remarks that "the Ministry of Justice will make a 'Vibrant Korea Where Immigrants' Potential Can Bloom'". "Introduced a 'Village Lawyer for Foreigners' so that any foreigners can receive legal consultative services in their mother tongue" "allow more people to use SES (Smart Entry Service), the automatic immigration clearance system". "Introduce a point system so that foreigners in various sectors of the Korean society can acquire permanent residence in an easier and more predictable manner", and "expand applications for immigration-related matters online and/or by mail, addressing inconveniences that may arise from waiting for a long time".

Italian Ambassador Sergio Mercuri

On the 8th Together Day Ceremony, there was a government award ceremony for 16 people including Mr.Bordo Vincenzo from Italy (Korean name: Kim Ha-jong) who received ‘2015 Immigrant Award’ in recognition of serving underprivileged people including the homeless for about 20 years.

Korean music performance

In addition, on the Together Day Ceremony, prizes were also awarded to the winners of 'the 1st Photo Contest' and 'the 8th Essay Contest Centered on a Foreigner's Life in Korea'. 7 people were granted prizes for the Photo Contest including Mr. Choi Seung-gwan, a teacher and Grand Prize winner, who entered a photo titled, 'Pleasure of Sharing' featuring a child with a foreign background with his classmates. Prizes for the Essay Contest were also awarded to 8 people including Ms. Huynh Thi Thu Ha (Vietnamese nationality), a Top Excellence Prize winner, who wrote a story about her marriage with a Korean man and the process of adjusting to life in Korea.

Outdoors and in the lobby of the ceremony venue, booths for experiencing other countries' various cultures were established, and the Together Day commemorative contest award winners' works were exhibited so that participants could enjoy them. Some participants including Hwang Kyo-ahn, the Minister of Justice and dignitaries expressed their warmth towards the Nepal earthquake victims by making donations for aiding Nepal earthquake recovery.

As the final sequence of the Ceremony, immigrants conducted various performances including Shinheung elementary school students' lion mask dance, 「Asia Heart Traditional Cultural Arts Troupes」's Russian traditional dance, etc. Throughout 'Together Week' which is one week starting Together Day, various regional cultural events will be hosted, and immigration policy forums to promote researches on immigration policy will be held under various themes.

Statement of the Coalition of Young People of Indonesia for ASEAN (KoalisiPemuda Indonesia untuk ASEAN)

May 18, 2015

Rohingya, Bengali by Myanmar government

“The way ASEAN handled the issue of Rohingya refugees is a real proof of a major step back in ASEAN values of humanity“. Greeting of peace

Dear ASEAN Community, lately we have been surprised by the news of forced migration of Rohingya people from Myanmar. More than 500 people were desperate to cross the sea to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Young people, women and children involved in the shipping. For days they were on the ship without adequate food and clean water. As a result, some of them ran out of energy and got very ill through out their struggle for freedom.

Rohingya’s decision was based on a big reason. More than 1 million people in Myanmar identify as Rohingya who are denied existence by Myanmar military government. They could no longer stand on the conflict and genocide that attack them constantly. Not only a decent life, but their recognition as citizens is also denied. Many of them do not have citizenship (stateless) and denied freedom, access, and other rights as human being in Myanmar. This problem has been widely voiced by young people and civil society in ASEAN, but the response from the ASEAN government is extremely poor. Ethnic cleansing, prosecution, and many forms of injustice towards Rohingya people continue to occur on daily basis.

Yet, their dream of freedom vanished for the ones who made it alive escaping Myanmar border. Thailand, their first destination, prompted them to stay offshore to avoid capture although they ‘kindly’ provided basic humanitarian supplies. The best scenario for them in Thailand is to be provided with onshore refuge camp but no chance of being permanent settlers. If they arrived in Malaysia, the Malaysian navy will repel their boats unless they are in dire straits. At last Indonesia, the world’s 3th largest democratic state with the largest Muslim population which make it one of the utopia state of many Rohingya’s, they were again denied. Illegal immigrants are not welcome in Indonesia, their boats were turned away with restock of fuel and food supplies and the stake of the ones who made it on shore of Indonesia is still on endless debate.

We, the Coalition of Young People of Indonesia for ASEAN (KoalisiPemuda Indonesia untuk ASEAN) are shocked and extremely disappointed with the fact that the ASEAN land that we live on has turned into a bunch of political territory that limits people’s freedom and dignity. ASEAN Community that we are all cherished has failed to recognize Rohingya people as part of ASEAN. ASEAN has denied human being and the way ASEAN handled the issue of Rohingya refugees is a real proof of a major step back in ASEAN values of humanity. Whomever we are, wherever we are; we including Rohingya are human beings, we are ASEAN Community who have equal rights as anyone else in ASEAN, regardless of our identities. The State must protect every person who lived in the area of the state. The State has no reason to refuse anyone in need nor to force anyone to move or reside to other states for any reasons. Each ASEAN state has procedures that regulates mobility and recidency of people. The perspective "immigrants are social trash" must be eliminated. In fact, immigrants including

young immigrants have their self ability, creativity, spirit, and resilience to contribute to development in ASEAN. If a State cannot accommodate their population, it must be ASEAN States’ collective responsibility to settle the challenge through rapid and peaceful processes. Selfishness of a certain State to solve their humanity challenges independently when it is clear for a fact that they have no quick solution of, will only lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. Based on these humanitarian values and principles, we, the Coalition of Young People of Indonesia for ASEAN (Koalisi Pemuda Indonesia untuk ASEAN), a coalition of young people of Indonesia that has played an active part in the movement of young people in ASEAN since 2008, is urgently calling for these five critical recommendations towards ASEAN:

1. To provide urgent and immediate protection towards Rohingya’s people who are currently floating on the sea; 2. To urge the Myanmar government and military to stop ethnic cleansing, prosecution, and any forms of injustice towards Rohingya people; 3. To urge the leaders of ASEAN States to immediately held a dialog to find and provide immediate solutions and sustainable solution towards the statelessness status of Rohingya people; 4. Must ensure Rohingya immigrants are treated well and provided with good facilities from the State that they currently reside in. The availability of shelter, food, clean water, and proper clothing must be guaranteed; and 5. To urge all ASEAN States to support each other to solve the problem in line with ASEAN strong commitment to support each other. In this case, ASEAN State Leaders must prove that commitment.

We are aware that there are many young people amongst Rohingya refugees. They deserve good life and bright futures. They should not think about conflict in the age that should be used for personal growth and development. In the spirit of collectivity and solidarity, we urge the leaders of ASEAN States to meet our five critical recommendations above immediately. We will continue to control the embodiment of those recommendations.

Sincerely Yours, Coalition of Young People of Indonesia for ASEAN Organization: ASEAN Youth Assembly (AYA) Indonesia, Aliansi Remaja Independen (ARI), Arus Pelangi, Jaringan Aksi Perubahan Indonesia, Pergerakan Indonesia, Youth Interface Forum on Sexuality (YIFoS). Individual: Ardhana Pragota, Rahmayana Fitri

HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND OPPORTUNITIES for ACTION: The Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign

May 11, 2015

Migrants, believed to be Rohingya and Bangladeshi

The recent awful findings of mass graves in Thailand bear testimony to what survivors from Myanmar have been saying for years. It is a sad fact that, over all this time and despite the overwhelming evidence, national, ASEAN and international governments and agencies have been seemingly incapable of offering even the most basic protection to these thousands of women, men and children, our fellow human beings.

Many of them are from the Rohingya community in Myanmar. The Myanmar government wrote the Rohingya out of the constitution in 1980. This denial of citizenship rights then encouraged the oppression, dispossession, and violence that have been experienced by the women, men and children of this unprotected minority Muslim community for the last thirty years and more. The Myanmar government still denies the Rohingya any recognition as citizens. Indeed reports continue to circulate that Myanmar government agencies are colluding with human traffickers to encourage the emptying of the Rohingya from their land. And yet ASEAN and other governments and international groupings continue to do business with this government, turning a blind eye to the horrific abuses going on, putting the pursuit of profits (as is so often the case) over the fate (including the systematic murder and trafficking) of people. So what has happened and is happening in Thailand and elsewhere, represents a collective failure of all of us, to listen to and act on the experiences of people subject to the most awful abuses and killings. At least the events of the last days have sparked a reaction; we need to make sure that this reaction is inclusive, sustained and determinedly effective. For the fact is that without such determined, coordinated, properly resourced and comprehensive action by national governments, regional groupings like ASEAN, and the international community, the human traffickers will continue to flourish, and systematically rape, torture, extort, sell and/or murder women, men and children by the thousands.

We need to be very clear that it is the traffickers and their associates who are the criminals, not the victims/survivors. We cannot blame migrant workers for the abuses they suffer; we cannot blame refugees for seeking asylum away from intolerable situations. It is from these communities that we have been told of the horror camps, holding houses, boat journeys, where rape, killings and extortion are daily experienced, and with the syndicates including people from relevant authorities. Women and men from these communities have reported that this is happening in Thailand and Malaysia, which is confirmed by report after report from UN agencies and others. So why have we been so incapable of acting to eliminate this horror? So although Malaysia does ‘allow’ refugees and asylum seekers to be here, we give them no rights and therefore no protection. Without a right to work, refugees and asylum seekers are completely at the mercy of potentially unscrupulous employers or agents, and many end up in trafficked situations. For them, there is no avenue for reporting abuses because they have no legal status. This is true too for migrant workers: an effective protection against traffickers and abusers does not exist because there is no guaranteed right to redress. We can change and need to change this situation immediately if we are to stop human trafficking.

Indeed Malaysia now has an opportunity to take a firm and decisive lead. As a national government and as the present Chair of ASEAN and member of the UN Security Council, we can set the example in creating a welcoming, supportive and empowering environment for refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers – women, men and children – in our own country and across the region. We can initiate without delay

· the prioritisation of anti trafficking initiatives and the declaration of war against human traffickers, to include the pursuit of all involved in human trafficking syndicates whoever they may be, without fear or favour; · the commitment of adequate resources to ensure that this can be done effectively; · the respect and support of refugee, asylum-seeker and migrant communities, respecting their testimonies and following through on information given, such respect and support to include protection through the provision of basic rights; · the coordination across ASEAN of initiatives to protect those who need protection and to prosecute all criminals, including human traffickers, smugglers, murderers, rapists, abductors, ransomers and extortionists; · the urgent addressing of the problems caused by the failure of the Myanmar government to recognise the Rohingya as citizens and to provide protection for Rohingya and for other ethnic minorities in the country.

All this needs to be done in a spirit of unity and cooperation, between governments; between governments and refugee, asylum seeker and migrant communities; between governments and civil society; and between governments and the international community. Every single one of us has a role to play. Openness, transparency and accountability need to be the foundation of our initiatives. This is a battle that has for far too long been avoided and its need ignored. At least let us make the horrific findings of the last few days a catalyst for actions which we will in future time look back on with pride and be able to say: that was the moment we all came together united in our fight against the corrupt, despicable criminals who care for nothing but to profit from the lives and misery of innocent women, men and children. Together we can make this happen.

Violation of the rights of the victims and alleged offenders must be stopped:The performance of the officials and media in Koh Tao murder case

Oct 15, 2014

Koh Tao murder case invetigating

Violation of the rights of the victims and alleged offenders must be stopped:The performance of the officials and media in Koh Tao murder case,... On 15 September 2014, two tourists from UK were murdered and their bodies were left on the beach of Koh Tao, Surathani, Southern Thailand. Later on 2 October 2014, police officials claimed three suspects who are migrant workers from Myanmar have confessed to the charges and on 3 October, two of them were brought to the crime scene for reenactment and an ensuing press conference was widely reported in the media. Since the investigation is still ongoing, the alleged offenders must enjoy the right to presumed innocence until a final verdict is made against them. It is prohibited to treat them as if they are already the perpetrators. Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) and other signatories would like to express our deepest concern about the practice of the concerned officials and media which would be tantamount to a violation of the right to privacy of the victims' families and the rights of alleged offenders as follows;

1. In a case where death sentence is mandatory, if an alleged offender does not have his lawyer, it is required that the inquiry official must provide him a legal representative as per Article 134/1 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Should the official fail to provide a legal counsel, any evidence given by the alleged offender would not be admissible. 2. If the confession given to the official has been obtained when the alleged offender is put under duress or being threatened, such a statement shall not be admissible. The officials who have committed such an intimidating act will also face a legal action since the act can be construed as a breach of an obligation as per the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

3. The reenactment of the crime at the crime scene, even though it was done so as part of the gathering of evidence by the inquiry officials, but it should be carried out solely just to serve the said purpose, but not to be part of a press conference. Even though the case has attracted avid attention from the public, the authorities are required to respect the right to privacy and the right to freedom and dignity of the alleged offenders. In addition, according to the Royal Thai Police order no. 855/2548, it clearly stipulates that no media would be allowed to be present during the enactment of the crime and no interviews or interaction between the inquiry officials and the alleged offenders or other parties can be given or made in the presence of the media, since their reports might have tampered with the investigation. 4. There was a massive and extensive dissemination of images and information about the crime scene reenactment and the interviews with state officials and other persons concerned or not with the case via the media. Several news agencies featured quite graphic images or facts about the event. The redistribution of information and images of the victims by the media simply give reminiscence to the horrible incidence and would only further traumatize families of the victims. It would also infringe on the dignity of the alleged offenders and might tamper with the investigation. Breaches that happened include for example an interview to the press by the interpreter regarding the statements given by the alleged offenders to the officials, even though such revelation was a breach of the code of ethics of an interpreter, or an interview given by a National Human Rights Commissioner who was supposed to be there simply to monitor if any rights violation has taken place or not, but not to give an interview to affirm incriminating evidence against the alleged offenders.

The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) and other signatories have the following demands to make; 1. Any interviews by persons concerned and not with the case in future must be carried out with consideration of their respective roles and the code of ethics regarding confidentiality which must be observed during the investigation process and dignity and reputation of the victims must be respected. 2. In the reportage by media, caution must be made to ensure respect of the right to privacy and to mitigate any further damage to the reputation of the victims and alleged offenders. It should always be borne in mind that any media report might induce the audience to prejudge a person as a perpetrator. But if it is proven later that that person is not guilty, any remedies would not suffice the damage already done to the person. Media professionals, in particular, are urged to seriously monitor their own work.

With respect for the rights and freedom of the people Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) Union for Civil Liberties (UCL)


By Neil Paul Valentino
Staff Correspondent
Oct 9, 2014

Joven David

ANSAN, South Korea - A Filipino migrant worker was blamed in the accident while he was working in daytime. Despite of precautionary and safety measure, the accident still happened when the victim was still in trauma in the hospital when his immediate superior did not think the safety first method. The poor worker was just asked to help by cleaning other machine outside of his task when the machine was turned on by the irresponsible machine operator while there was someone still cleaning the machine. According to the initial findings of the doctor, the skin elbow of the traumatic worker was deeply lacerated.

Mr. Joven David is a native of Pampanga province in the Philippines and a father of one child and worked abroad to sustain the needs of his family. He is a good brother to his siblings and a good friend and quite generous to his colleagues and neighbors in Ansan City. Prior to accident, he is always aware and can work with presence of mind and trained as Employment Permit System or EPS trained worker with precautions. Unfortunately, On Saturday, at about 4 in the afternoon of September 21, the serious accident occured. "I was only asked to clean the machine but all of a sudden i was surprised when there was sudden object touched my arms and elbow so i was shouting and almost died in pain" he sadly stressed.

According to the occupational accident rule, whether it is the fault of victim or not and since it happened inside the company. The owner is responsible for all the compensation of the migrant worker as well as the hospital expenses and wages. Just two months ago, media reported and provided urgent assistance to a Filipina named Sheena who worked as domestic helper in Saudi Arabia who was critically hospitalized due to broken backbone by jumping from the second floor just to escape from the hands of her arab employer, she was maltreated, not providing foods and not receiving her wages for a long hours of work, she went abroad to financially support the unceasing medication of her father. Accident is inevitable and occurs only when the person is out of his mind or training and knowledge.

Meanwhile, the penman and the victim's brother reported the sudden mishap at the same time and asked the assistance of Human Resource Development or HRD Korea for the needs and support for the helpless worker who until now is anxious and worried to his condition. The HRD staff has assured help by providing services whatever the victim needs such as translation middleman and accident insurance compensation mediator. Moreover, the victim does not know what will happen and how long he stays in the hospital and he even does not know if he can still work and be accepted after this sudden misfortune.

Inspite of the injury, Joven is still confident that he will go back to normal amid serious injury so he will be able to support the financial needs of his family in the Philippines and with the help and moral support of many friends he does not lose hope to continue his dream to be fulfilled and prayers of many people who are concerned and love him will make him back to good life again as soonest as possible.


By Neil Paul Valentino
Sep 30, 2014
Staff Correspondent

Crowd at the Asian game stadium

INCHEON, South Korea - A great opportunity for every foreign worker and immigrant who witness the Asian games currently held in Incheon, South Korea as the third time host of 17th Asian Games. There are 45 participating nations competing in multi-sport event.

Surprisingly, more than three thousand Filipino migrant workers come over to Incheon's Samsan Gymnasium just to see the face-off between the host South Korea and basketball team of the Philipines which everyone enjoyed and with great joy seeing the "Gilas Pilipinas" players representing the country to bring the gold medal in basketball category. Noticeably, the spectators of the tropical country are more than half of the Korean basketball fans inside the more than 7,000 capacity sports gym. In fact, Korea has hosted Asian game or Asiad for the third time since 1986, 2002 and this year while the Philippines had hosted once in 1954 after India did the very first Asiad in 1951. There are at least 38 different games to be competed and to Filipino fans, basketball is the most popular sport among the interesting games.

However, Filipinos from the four corners of South Korea have attended and united each other for a common goal, to honor and support the nation and Philippine team known as "Gilas Pilipinas" as representatives from the land of Juan dela Cruz amid corruption and chaos in the nation where poverty is still undying and killings are rampant anywhere, worse, in particular the motorcycle riding in tandem had become hired killers of innocent and helpless victims.

The 17th Asian games which started on September 19 opened impressive opening ceremony where most Koreans attended the every four-year great event, this will end on October 4, 2014, there are also forty-five participating nations including North Korea by which 8 gold medals are achieved by its athletes and it only participated since 1974. At present time, there are only 9 nations have hosted the Asiad among forty-five participants namely, India, Philippines, Thailand, Qatar, China, Indonesia, Japan, Iran and South Korea.

CAMBODIA: statement calling for Thai government to humanely treat Cambodian migrant workers with respect for their rights and dignity

Jun 13, 2014

Cambodian migrant workers

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) – a coalition of 21 NGOs working on the promotion of Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law in Cambodia deplores the decision of the Thai junta to deport Cambodian migrants en masse and demands that their deportation is carried out in a manner which respects their human rights

Since June 1st, 2014, about 40,000 Cambodian workers in Thailand have self-deported or have been forcibly removed from the country by the military junta. ADHOC investigators have received credible witness accounts up to nine Cambodian migrants have been killed, and that beatings have occurred at the hands of the Thai armed forces.. Unfortunately, in times of crisis in Thailand Cambodians are often scapegoated. Many Cambodian workers are now stranded at the border without enough money to get them home.

In the past, the authorities have turned a blind eye to the presence of illegal immigrants in Thailand needed for booming economy. But the situation has changed and the country has experienced a decline in GDP of 2.1%1 in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter. Human Dignity is a fundamental human right as mentioned under Article 1 of United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which both Thailand and Cambodia are signatories.

The Thai military violated the human rights of undocumented Cambodian migrant workers when it forcefully expelled them from the country, placing them in crowded trucks. This treatment subjected these workers to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment as prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Moreover, due to inadequate preparation and coordination between the Thai and Cambodian authorities, the migrants workers have been forced to shelter in makeshift tents at the border, and hundreds more workers continue to arrive every day. Water, food, healthcare and shelter are severely limited. .

To address and improve the situation of human rights of these Cambodian migrant workers, CHRAC calls and put forwards the following recommendations to both Thai and Cambodian governments follows: Thai government shall create a due process for deportation of Cambodian migrant workers and ensure that Cambodian migrant workers’ right are respected and inform Cambodian Embassy and/or Consular in Thailand in relation to the arrest, detention and any necessary deportation of Cambodian migrant workers and treat them fairly and humanely.

Thai government shall promote and respect the migrant workers human rights and shall also fulfil its international human rights obligations regarding the treatment of Cambodian migrant workers as members of ASEAN. Thai government should immediately investigate allegations of killings of Cambodians. Cambodian government should create ad-hoc commission to monitor Cambodian migrant workers’ situation and address emergency issues faced by Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand and have a clear plan for the evacuation of Cambodian migrant workers, providing them temporary shelter, food and water.

Cambodian government should set up temporary offices to provide emergency support and assistance to Cambodian migrant workers and widely disseminate the temporary offices where Cambodian migrant workers are located and working. For more information, please contact:

- Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, Chairman of CHRAC, 012 901199 - Mr. Ny Chakrya, Head of Human Rights and Legal Aid section, ADHOC, 011 274959 - Mr. Ya Navuth, Executive Director of Caram – Cambodia 012 961427 - Mr. Run Saray, Executive Director of LAC, 012 838341 - Ms. Sith Hong Eang, Acting President of KYA 017 788955 - Mr. Yong Kim Eng, President of PDP – Center, 016 828211 - Mr. Suon Bunsak, Chief of CHRAC secretariat, 092 344357

Join in to Demand Government of India to Endorse Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)

Special Report
By Bhupali Kusum Vitthal

Child Labor

According to ILO’s new global estimates (2012) nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labour across the world, trapped in jobs which they were coerced into. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced labourers in the world – 11.7 million (56 per cent), followed by Africa at 3.7 million (18 per cent) and Latin America with 1.8 million victims (9 per cent). The International Labour Organization (ILO) will have its 103rd International Labour Conference (ILC) on 28 May-12 June 2014. The focus of the discussion is the standard-setting item on the elaboration of a Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), supplemented by a Recommendation, or of an autonomous Recommendation, on action to end forced labour.

The decision to include the elaboration of a Protocol on the agenda of the Conference was a result of the ILO Governing Body’s 317th Session in March 2013 “to address implementation gaps to advance prevention, protection and compensation measures, to effectively achieve the elimination of forced labour” This decision followed the first recurrent discussion on fundamental principles and rights at work in June 2012,and a Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Forced Labour and Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in February 2013. The conclusions of the 2012 Conference discussion called for “a detailed analysis, including through the possible convening of meetings of experts to identify gaps in existing coverage of ILO standards with a view to determining whether there is a need for standard setting to: (i) complement the ILO’s forced labour Conventions to address prevention and victim protection, including compensation; and (ii) address human trafficking for labour exploitation”.

The Government of India has not yet publicised its position. Government of India may only propose a Recommendation and not a Protocol. Recommendation is not binding. Since, India has already ratified Forced Labour Conventions, India must take leadership role in supporting a Protocol. A protocol will be extremely useful in securing the rights of Indians working in other countries and will also show our resolve to address forced labour practices in the country. We, the under signed, urge Government of India, not to compromise on its leadership in global developments, and take proactive role in ensuring the adoption of a Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention during the ILC 2014 (May 28 – June 12) for the prevention of forced labour and protection and compensation of victims.

A protocol will ensure that the member states to have in place: • A national policy or plan of action to eliminate forced labour • Effective and comprehensive measures for identification, release and full recovery of all victims of forced labour • All victims have full access to legal remedies including compensation • Strengthen the role of inspection with regards to forced labour and implementation of relevant laws and regulations • Protection of victims from possible punishment of crime they have been forced to commit due to their forced labour situation • Various members to cooperate with each other with a view to eliminate all forms of forced labour • Measures for o Coherent employment and migration policies that address risks faced by workers particularly those in irregular work o Basic social security guarantees o Reducing trade in goods and services that are produced using forced labour o Eliminating abuses and fraudulent practices by placement services

Foreigners in South Korea joins annual Chuseok Festival

By Neil Paul Valentino
Staff Correspondent
Sep 20, 2013

A group of Ansan Multi-culture family center

ANSAN City, South Korea - Annual Chuseok festival commemorated this week beginning September 17-19. Hence, SDA Multicultural Center in Ansan along with its members trekked to Everland Resort yesterday, a great place to visit for all like families, friends, group, tourists, etc. which has amazing entertainment services, ride games, awesome building designs and foods and restaurants as well. According to travellers, this is South Korea's Disneyland. Taking part of the said Chuseok festival Trip or "Thanksgiving Day" were Africans, Myanmarese, Filipino people, Chinese, Mongolians and Koreans and many others. Also present were the young members of 1000 Missionary Movement.

Moreover, more than hundred foreign members of the center joined and enjoyed the whole day trip, first- timers and repeaters came together and observed lots of recreations like skycable ride, various children rides and games, american designed T-Roller Coaster, Flume ride and wonderful Safari attraction which eveyone can see real and giant lions and tigers, giraffes, and bears and differents wild animals tamed by trainors. One more highlight there was rotating house which really twists your whole body and rolls the minds of the guests, the penman himself experienced the amazing facts of electronic and scientific invention, in fact this is the writer's fifth time trip in super-duper Disneyland look and design alike. Do you know that Everland Resort is the most popular tourist spot in South Korea for tourists and native Koreans? Throughout the day, thousand of tourists visited the awesome and supersized resort. Prior to Everland journey the center prepared traditional foods for guests, members, and staff.

Members of All Ethnic Democracy and Human Rights Network

Memorably, it is the most important holidays to Koreans where most private factories and companies and public offices alike shut its business activities to celebrate the traditional harvest festival called as "Han-gawi" or mid-autumn festival and traditionally visit their hometowns, gather each other, and meet their immediate relatives and families for reunions , while some go to their ancestor's grave to clean around the tomb and offer traditional ritual worship. On the other hand, traditional foods are prepared during Chuseok festival like Songpyeon, a traditional rice cake which contains sesame seeds, chestnut, cinnamon black beans and honey. Customary games are also played in different regions such as archery and wrestling which the winner receives a bull and a kilo of rice. In fact, it is reported that there are some Koreans who do not celebrate chuseok due to lack of annual good harvest.

THAILAND: Social Insecurity for Migrants Legally in Thailand

Aug 5, 2013

Migrant workers in Thailand


Since November 2010, the Social Security Office of Thailand has promised social security benefits to migrants holding temporary passports. This promise became policy under the Cabinet Resolution of January 15th 2013. Migrants who persevered through all the steps and all the fees to regularize themselves believed that it would eventually be worth all the effort. They were led to believe that the temporary passport would be their gateway to 300 baht a day wage, access to all seven benefits of social security and to the Workmen's Compensation Fund. But they have been deceived.

Not only is the 300 baht minimum wage not enforced for migrants but now the number of benefits they can receive after contributing to the social security fund is diminishing before their eyes. On 28th May 2013, Mr Somkiat Chawatsriwong, Permanent Secretary to Ministry of Labour, announced that after studying ILO, he believed that a separate social security system with fewer benefits should be set up for migrant workers. Women in particular were to be targeted for restricted rights. While women would still be able to claim the costs of birthing, they would not receive benefits for maternity leave or child allowance. Mr Somkiat said that migrants should know the importance of birth control so that they will not settle in Thailand, they should know that they are only coming to Thailand to work for a period. Migrants, he said were not eligible for unemployment benefits because according to the immigration law they are not allowed to in the country for longer than 7 days if they are not working. He also proposed giving a lump sum instead of monthly pensions. (TNA News, 28th May, 2013)

MAP Foundation, a migrant workers support group, is dismayed that a two tiered social security system, which would effectively institutionalize the second class status of migrant workers in Thailand is being proposed. According to the National News Bureau of Thailand, 29th July 2013, the amendment to the Social Security Act 2533 excludes migrants from three of the seven benefits, namely the right to birthing costs, child allowance and unemployment benefits. The proposed amendments are being justified on the basis that migrants are not welcome to settle in Thailand. They are based on discriminatory practices and will create tensions and hostility between migrant and host communities. They also clearly violate Thailand's obligations to CEDAW. Article 11(2) specifies that in order to prevent discrimination on the grounds of marriage or maternity, States must "... introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances."1 CEDAW Article 11(2)(c) requires State parties to promote the establishment and development of a network of child-care facilities. In addition, under CEDAW a state is legally obliged to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women and advance gender equality, articles 2 – 5 are non-negotiable, and the state must at all costs avoid discrimination by its own action. The denial of child care and maternity benefits clearly violates Thailand's obligations to CEDAW and the two tier social security system will create not eliminate discrimination.

The Labour Unions and workers groups of Thailand had proposed an alternative draft of the Social Security reform bill. Their proposal extends the definition of worker to include domestic workers, home workers and all temporary workers and calls on the government to match informal workers contribution to the social security fund. The Labour Unions also emphasized the need to reform the social security office's structure and governance. This has been a major cause for concern for all who contribute to the fund but do not have confidence that they will receive their benefits in the future if the office is not transparent in its management of the funds. Despite its progressive and comprehensive nature, the proposed amendments by the Labour Unions were rejected by Parliament. We can only hope that the Parliament will also reject any two tiered, discriminatory social security system which does not afford migrants all their benefits and equal rights.

Philippines depends in the shoulder of OFW’s remittance earnings

By Neil Paul Valentino
Staff Correspondent
Jul 1, 2013

Overseas Filipino workers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Ansan City, South Korea- How true that the Philippines leans in the shoulder of OFWs remittance earnings. However, the present government has declared economic robust growth recently with the GDP of 7.8 percent in the first quarter of the year, according to National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB), but the majority of Catholic church leaders did not agree with the Aquino administration’s reports for the poverty is still the same and even worser as many poorest of the poor in society are suffering for lack of foods, that some could not be able to eat ordinary meals and more children are undernourished mostly in depressed areas of the country.

Hence, Jose Palma, president of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and Cebu archbishop expressed his view on Mr. Aquino to only tell the truth in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) this coming July 2013. He also said that the poverty has not been removed at all and questioned the so-called economic growth and development. At present time, the country’s gap between the poor and the rich is widening,” Bishop Pabillo said, CBCP national secretariat for social action, he rated President Aquino three out of ten (10) because the vaunted economic growth has not reached the poor yet.” thus Catholic leaders have found that in the end, only capitalists and wealthy businessmen, who are progressing and not the people in the questionable economic development.

Meanwhile, unemployment had 6.9 percent in 2012 and escalated to 7.8 this year, the nation’s revenues were $35.16 billion last year while the expenditures were $41.57 billion which means the country spends more than what it earns which big part of it came from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) taxation and remittance earnings, according to World Fact Book, United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The statistics also showed that the hunger incidence in Mindanao province got the most from 20 percent last year up to 29.2 in the first quarter of 2013, Visayas region had 13.3 percent in 2012 to 15 percent while in National Capital Region (NCR) had 15.3 elevated to 21.7 percent. Likewise, the country’s import is greater than the export in the end of 2012 with $63.42 billion and $52.17 billion, respectively.

In fact, many ordinary people or 90 percent are below poverty line, earning only low income against the high price of commodities, unaffordable electric power ( Asia’s most expensive) meaning the purchasing power of an ordinary wage earner is weaker than his expenditures which only in the Philippine is happening as capitalists and big businesses- and so called “rich and powerful few” are growing and progressing while many Filipinos are slaves in their own nation and OFW’s as well are exports to other countries who later become slaves, abused, raped, and jailed.

“Filipino people wanted more action from President Aquino and his allies to create more jobs for the jobless mostly to newly graduates in order to lessen the rising of unemployment in the country,” one concerned Filipino working in South Korea said. Despite of economic development reported by Mr. aquino administration, there is still inflation rate like energy hike, tuition fees in colleges and universities, high prices of commodities, graft and corruption, poverty and the killings of Journalists of the country. No President in the Philippines can bring the progress back again since 1950’s as the nation was second to Japan in robust economy unless he eliminates the Priority Develepment Fund or known as “Pork Barrel” as the root of graft and corruption and persecute the corrupt officials and looters of Filipino treasury otherwise “Revolution” is a must to bring back the freedom to the Filipino people and next generations the freedom to live and happiness.

Therefore, the remittance earnings and taxation of OFW’s across the world had a great impact and boasting the country’s economy with the number of Overseas Filipino Workers in Europe, Middle East countries, USA, Asian countries are still multiplying.

Ansan Foreign Community exalts May of Flowers Festival in South Korea

By Neil Paul Valentino
Staff Correspondent
May 12, 2013

Migrants community in Ansan

Ansan City, South Korea – A group of foreign devotees together with the Catholic Parish Church played up Month of May Festival or “May of Flowers” known as “Flores de Mayo” highlighted as ’Santacruzan in Ansan” today to commemorate the blessed Virgin Mary. This annual festival celebrated by the neighborhoods also honoring the significance of the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, Mary. However, Flowers of May festival or popularly known as Flores de Mayo in the Philippines is celebrated by the followers of Galilea Parish Church in accordance with their beliefs and to honor the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great. At around 1:00 in the afternoon, the procession begun, which attended by more than 200 religious devotees. Interestingly, the festival was a great way for small number of foreign community in Ansan City to be together in this exceptional occasion.

Moreover, the Santacruzan is one of the features of Flores de Mayo, followed by an almost kilometer parade which the participants walked beside the road, thus, every followers wore their customary clothes and costumes including children, men and women. Various Biblical characters were personified during the procession such as, St. Magdalene, who wiped the feet of Jesus, Cleopatra, escorted by Mark Anthony, Mary, mother of James, Queen Esther, the queen of Persia and many others. The Celebration of the Eucharist was followed after the procession while some took photos for commemoratives.

Santacruzan, however, is one way to honor the Holy Cross which was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Rome after which joy and thanksgiving were celebrated by devotees, led by Queen Helena and her people and this religious-historical festivity also observed in many cities, towns and even small communities throughout the Philippines amid the month of May, thus Ansan Filipino Community also holds the same in other nation to show the importance of love and unity among others regardless of race and belief.

On the other hand, Filipino Community in Ansan also just ended its annual summer sports festival late last month which brought foreigner people united and emphasize the spirit of great camaraderie, companionship and good community headed by its Director Christianus Piatu, Indonesian priest and Filipino priest, Reverend Jun Perez.

Hostile conflict between two Koreas fears migrant workers

By Neil Paul Valentino
Staff Correspondent
Mar 31, 2013

At the boarder of South and North Koreas

ANSAN, South Korea – Just few weeks ago, there were provocations made by North Korea government to undergo attack against South Korea and USA alike. In 1950, after the Northern part of Korea Peninsula invaded South which the war resulted deadlock and ended with an armistice on July 1953, which left over three million casualties and many people wounded and thus over a million families have been separated due to Korean Peninsula’s hostility.

At the present time, netizens have expressed their concerns and worries on social working sites and migrant workers as well on how on to manage and avoid the unsettled conflicts between two Koreas, the most latest information every netizen received was to keep in touch and encourage their colleagues, friends, co-workers, relatives and immediate families to be prepared and be sensible about the plan of the aggressor North Korea’s attack against the prepared and defensive South Korea , with the help of super power United States and UN allied forces, South Korea’s Ministry of Defense on the other hand, said it is ready to secure the lives and safety of its people.

Today, there are more or less 300,000 foreigners who are living and working in highly developed and economic growth South Korea but it seems lives are more important than other things - as everyone is ready due to high tensions, for instance, the Embassy of the Philippines in South Korea has informed its people to be aware at all times that if conflict happens, everyone knows where to go and be safe.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s communist regime, which invested its narrow resources by building up its military power had expressed to launch its missiles on Seoul in South Korea and Washington in USA. According to communist state’s statement, it said, "If the U.S. and the South Korean puppet group perpetrate a military provocation for igniting a war against the DPRK (North Korea) in any area, including the five islands in the West Sea of Korea or in the area along the Military Demarcation Line, it will not be limited to a local war but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war. " The impoverished nation, whose poor people are starving to death also added that “ the mobilization of US B2 Stealth Bombers for the South-US exercise drill just recently was described by north as “ an unpardonable and heinous provocation, and open challenge.”

The participation of B2 stealth bomber made the North Korean young communist leader, Kim Jung-un more angry and aggressive, has decided to put strategic missiles on standby, threatening to strike targets in South Korea, the U.S. mainland, and its military bases in Hawaii and Guam, in anger after nuclear-capable U.S. B-2 stealth bombers participated in joint military drills in the South, according to the Korean News Central Agency (KNCA) of North Korea. However, B2 stealth bombers is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the B2 bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. The B2 Spirit brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses.

Beforehand, the United Nations Security Council has passed new sanctions that would punish the communist nation for its third nuclear test on February 2013 despite of repeated warnings. The sanctions were adopted 15-0 with the backing of China, only North Korea’s support. China stated that sanctions would be fully implemented against the stubborn Stalinist state, thus South Korea’s President Park also expressed that no mercy will be shown to North Korea if it acts aggressively, it would face its own risk. According to Kim Min-seok, ministry spokesman, If the North attacks South Korea with a nuclear weapon, Kim Jong-un’s regime will perish the earth.

Migrant Workers demands in South Korea elevate

By Neil Paul Valentino
Staff Correspondent
Feb 9, 2013

EPS Migrant workers from Philippines

ANSAN, South Korea – More good opportunities for migrant workers from different 15 Asian nations who passed the Korean Language Test (KLT) or Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) to work in South Korea are at stake. On January 2013, Ministry of Labor and Employment( MOLE), announced that 65.000 foreign workers from different 15 countries are needed for small and medium enterprises to fill in the manpower shortage in South Korea’s industrial firms which also labeled as “ historic” that will make Korea on the map of innovation and leadership in business and economic development. Thus, it has an unstoppable economic growth and advancement . According to the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) the increase demand for migrant workers is aimed at meeting higher demand for low-skilled Employment Permit System (EPS) foreign workers in manufacturing, construction, fishing and farming companies and other industries.

The Ministry’s allotment of 57,000 in 2012 raised to 62,000 this year for non-professional migrant workers who will work in several industries across the nation. Of the 62,000 non-skilled workers, 52,000 of them are beginners who never been worked in the country under the Employment Permit System program which sponsored by the Ministry of Labor and Employment itself. Meanwhile, the remainders are those who were given second chance or “rehired” to work again who at the same time garnered a record of excellent services in their previous employers likewise, those who were stayed in their whole sojourn period. For instance, Mr. Sayan of Thailand, worked in Printed Circuit Board Company for almost five years without changing his job in his sojourn period, has been given a chance to work anew for additional four- year and ten- months.

In addition to this, according to the report, each industry such as manufacturing has its big allocation of 37,600, 1,560 allocated for construction, 4,600 for farming industry, 2,150 allotted for fishery and 90 for service sector. At the same time, small and medium enterprises may hire workers from 15 designated countries such as, Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China and many others under the law of Employment Permit System. The factories which need workers can apply to local offices of the Ministry of Labor and Employment across the country between January 14 up to 25, According to Mr. Jang, Labor Officer. He said that the agency decided to select 6,000 workers in advance as it takes up to three months for a migrant workers to get the required E-9 visa before entering the country.

Furthermore, employers can hire foreign workers on a first come, first serve basis in last year, but this time, hiring will be based on the system by which employers will be graded using a point award system which means that whoever has the higher numbers will be given priority to hire migrant workers. In a recent report, the industries operate regardless of the seasons, while most of the farms grow vegetables and fruits in greenhouses during the winter so the manpower demand of these foreign workers are needed to help these business owners run their business effectively and productively.

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