An international report released Thursday urged Jordan to fully implement laws and regulations governing migrant workers, although it described these laws as “comprehensive”.
Titled “Running in Circles: Progress and Challenges in Regulating of Filipino and Sri Lankan Labour Migrants to Jordan”, the report was compiled through interviews and data collected from the three countries in question; Jordan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Dovelyn Agunias, who authored the report, said the meeting she held with officials and stakeholders in the three countries reflected their willingness to address the challenges facing this sector and their full cooperation to work together to reach unified regulations that can end the violations of domestic helpers’ rights.
“Jordan is one of few countries in the world where domestic helpers fall under the domestic labour law and relevant regulations. The Jordanian government is extremely concerned about solving recurrent complaints with respect to violations of migrant workers’ rights,” Agunias said at the report launch, which was held with the participation of Labour Ministry Secretary General Khleif Khawaldeh and the ambassadors of the Philippines and Sri Lanka, Jullius Torres and Andrayas Mohottala, along with other officials and advocacy group representatives.
Agunias noted that the number of recruitment agencies in the three countries is not compatible with the marketplace as it outnumbers the need, adding that some of these agencies break the regulations to offset a loss in profits.
“Despite the comprehensive rules and regulations governing recruitment practices, Sri Lankan and Filipino workers in Jordan remain vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. In-depth interviews with officials and stakeholders in the targeted countries showed a gap between regulations prescribed on paper and what actually happens on the ground,” the report said, adding that recruitment agencies in these countries resort to charging migrants excessive fees either before departure or once they arrive in Jordan in ?he form of deployment costs.
Moreover, the report said the ban on sending workers to Jordan by the Philippine government in 2008 made the helpers take an illegal route and thus be more vulnerable. In addition, the report said, sub-agents are becoming more active in the recruitment process, adding to the cost of the fees.
Khawaldeh said the ministry is intensifying inspections of the labour market and is training additional labour inspectors every year to ensure the job is done.
“Some of the points mentioned in the report have been addressed. The report based its data on the year 2009 and over the past two years there have been several changes and amendments to the relevant regulations that secured more rights for the labourers in general,” Khawaldeh said, adding that the ministry tries to strike a balance between all stakeholders with respect to each side’s rights.
Director of Tamkeen Legal Centre Linda Kallash pinpointed discrepancies in statistics, especially the number of workers registered in the country of origin against the number declared by the destination country, noting that this indicates the considerable number of illegal labour in Jordan.