Gerry Martinez is a former undocumented worker in South Korea and the incoming chairperson of Migrante International. Migrante International is a worldwide alliance of Filipino workers in 90 countries around the world. He testified before the Tribunal about the effects of Labor Export Policy (LEP) on the Philippine economy. LEP, promoted by the GFMD, does not contribute to real economic development but contributes to further economic regression and results in abuse of migrant workers.
“The phenomenon of labor migration is the result of the increasing under-development of nations caused by the imposition of neoliberal policies. Contrary to what the GFMD claims and promotes, it does not facilitate development. Migration as a tool for development is a myth. The truth is, labor migration has resulted in the further commodification of the labor force and service sectors of underdeveloped nations at the expense of genuine national development.” (Testimony of Gerry Martinez)
“The GFMD is promoting the Philippine model of labor export to other countries in the South advocating this system as a means to achieve development through migration. However, it is glossing over the fact that after four decades of labor export policies, the Philippines has not experienced real development from migration and labor export policies are taking place at great expense to the migrant laborers especially from the working classes.” (Testimony of Gerry Martinez)
Please see link below for full testimony:
Garry Martinez affidavit
Gerry Martinez testifying before judges
Gregario Cagod testified before the Tribunal on the issue of seafarers. Mr. Cagod is the vice president of the National Union of Seafarers Crewing Danish Ships (FILDAN) and a board member of the International Seafarers Action Center in the Philippines (ISAC).
Mr. Cagod discussed the conditions of seafarers around the world. Seafaring remains one of the most dangerous professions. According to the International Maritime Health Association, “it has been established that seafaring is one of the most physically demanding professions in one of the most dangerous work environments: the sea.” The global maritime trade accounts for 5 percent of the total global economy and employees more than one million seafarers from around the world. Seafarers suffer from exploitation, discrimination, poor working conditions, and neglect. Mr. Cagod received a severe brain injury while abroad a vessel after falling from a ladder. After surgery, the company denied him disability benefits until he filed a case before the NLRC.
For the full testimony of Mr. Cagod, please see the link below.
Gregorio Cagod affidavit
Viviana Medina testified via video before the Tribunal on the issue of female migrant workers. Born in Mexico, Ms. Medina first traveled to Canada in 2006 as a refugee. The Canadian government denied her application for refugee status, so she returned to Mexico, but returned to Canada in 2009 through the sponsorship of her husband. She currently works with the Immigrant Workers’ Center.
Ms. Medina shared her experience as an undocumented, female migrant worker in Canada. She expressed the vulnerability she felt while working in Canada. She worked “in all jobs from the countryside, picking apples, in textiles, in cleaning, in the kitchen.” According to Canadian law, a person waiting for sponsorship may not seek a work permit which forced Ms. Medina to work “under the table.” She received less than minimum wage frequently worked extremely long hours. As an undocumented worker, she could not seek redress which her employers knew very well. “They know you have no documents. Where will you go? Where does a person go? Where do we go to complain? Who will protect us?”
In addition to discussing the challenges she faced as an undocumented worker, Ms. Median described the effect of her gender on her ability to provide for her family. “Women do no earn as much money as men in the country where we migrate. For example, here [Canada], women earn less, at these agencies at least we get paid less because we are women. ”
“So I ask that more protection be given to women, better access. We should not be judged by our status, whether we have status or not, you have to have access. It is a matter of dignity and critical for the life of any human being.”
To read to full transcript of Ms. Medina’s testimony, please click the link below. To watch her testimony, see the link to the right of the page.
Viviana Medina transcript
Eni Lestari, current president of the United Indonesians Against Overcharging (PILAR), testified about the experiences of female domestic workers. Born in Indonesia, Ms. Lestari migrated to Hong Kong twelve years ago to work as a domestic worker. She is also the spokesperson of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB), which is an alliance of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong.
Ms. Lestari discussed commodification and exploitation of labor as it relates to labor flexibilization. She particularly focused on the issue of wages, working conditions, and abuses suffered by domestic workers. “In many countries, wage of migrant workers is not covered by the minimum wage law if such exists. Our wage is left at the mercy of the market that is not that merciful when it comes to our likes. Due to our vulnerable condition, capitalist employers peg our wage to a level much lower than the national standard.” Most domestic workers in Asia must live with their employers which makes them available for work “24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The Middle East uses a sponsorship system called the kafala system where the employee relies on the employer for his/her visa. “This policy puts migrant workers under the absolute control of the employer whose permission is also required if the migrant worker wants to leave or transfer employment. Because of the Kafala system, migrant workers are forced to make a choice between staying on and riding out the abuses they experience, or run away and face the prospect of hunger, unemployment and living as an undocumented in a foreign land. Obviously, neither one is a choice at all.” Finally, Ms. Lestari provided several examples of confirmed cases of abuse of domestic workers by the employer.
Please see link below for the full testimony of Eni Lestari.
Eni Lestari affidavit
Testimony of Eni Lestari
Rex Osa testified on the condition of refugees in Germany. He is a member of the VOICE Refugee Forum, a self-organized group of refugees and asylum seekers in Germany. The VOICE uses the slogan “we have not vote, but a voice” to protest the deplorable conditions in Germany. They fight against “colonial structures and the racist mind-set.” They oppose police brutality, isolation camps, deportations, and laws restricting the movement of refugees.
Mr. Osa discussed the condition of refugees in Germany. German law requires refugees to live in specific areas known as lagers. “The lager has become the instrument for social exclusion, as persons of different religions and cultural backgrounds are herded into isolated lagers, deprived of privacy and totally controlled through institutionalized discriminatory rules.” Refugees frequently live in rundown and dilapidated facilities and must rely on the state for basic necessities including foodstuffs. The police use racial profiling to target refugees.
Additionally, Frontex, the EU border control agency, coordinates all deportations. Mr. Osa called Frontex “modern day hunters” and has gone beyond operating at contact points and will pursue migrants. Finally, Mr. Osa stated that GFMD never discussed anything relevant to the refugee situation because its only serves its own interests. Thus, the GFMD contains the same structures as imperialist countries.
Please see link below for the complete testimony of Rex Osa.
Rex Osa affidavit
Luz Miriam Jaramillo was the first of six witnesses to testify about the violation of human rights as perpetrated by the GFMD through specific policies such as the European Union (EU) Return Directive, Labor Export Policy, and refugees. Ms. Jaramillo described the effects of the EU Return Directive on migrants in the EU. Born in Colombia, Ms. Jaramillo migrated to Italy to find work. She is the Chairperson of the International Migrants’ Alliance Europe Section.
The European Parliament ratified the Return Directive in 2008. The proposal prescribes an EU-wide policy for the deportation of undocumented migrants. The directive adopts a two-step approach to deportation. After a deportation decision is made, the migrant has a “voluntary departure period.” If the migrant does not leave, the courts issue a removal order which imposes a five year re-entry ban. The return directive specifies a maximum detention period of six months, extendable to 12. The return directive applies to minors as well. Ms. Jaramillo stated that this policy “goes against the core of international agreements, conventions and principles on undocumented migrants, such as the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe Resolution 1509, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, the UN International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and the members of their Families and many others.”
There is a media blackout surrounding the implementation of the EU return directive. Thousands have been deported before families can investigate because detainees are unable to communicate with family.
Ms. Jaramillo recounted the experience of undocumented persons in the EU. They experience systemic injustice and violation of their rights including little access to healthcare, education, detention, and racism. They work in hazardous conditions in jobs that “Europeans don’t want to do.”
Please see the link below for full testimony of Luz Miriam Jaramillo:
Luz Miriam Jaramillo affidavit
The final expert testimony came from Jose Jacques Medina, the co-founder and coordinator of Mesoamerican Migrant Movement (M3). M3 is a network of human rights defenders, human mobility and freedom of movement activists involved in the immigrant rights struggles in the United States. It lobbies the US Congress for consistent public policies that promote local and regional free, safe transit for all.
Mr. Medina testified about the human rights abuses suffered by migrants as they travel through Mexico to the United States. He described the massacre of 72 migrants in San Fernando, Tamaulipas which border the United States. According to Mr. Medina, “Mexico’s pro-imperialist government’s reign is tainted by the blood of more than 60 thousand people who were murdered in the so-called war against organized crime, drug trafficking and human trafficking.””The present Mexican government has sold and betrayed Mexico’s national sovereignty for the interests of transnational financial capital..In the name of national security, which means the exclusive defense of American security, the Mexican territory has become the largest immigration checkpoint of the world thereby causing direct injury to human mobility, family unity, and the people’s right to survival.”
Over 70,000 migrants from central America have disappeared in Mexico during the past six years. They are victims of human trafficking and smuggling, organized crime, drug related violence, and extortion. The Mesoamerican Migrant Movement is the formal host of the Caravan of Mothers and Relatives who travel from the southern border of Mexico to the northern border with the United States in search of missing relatives.
For the full testimony of Jose Jacques Medina, please see link below:
Jose Jacques Medina affidavit
Mr. Medina testifying before judges. The screen contains an image of the Caravan of Mothers searching for missing relatives.