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.
Irene Fernandez testified before the Tribunal as an expert witness. She is the founder of Teneganita, a non-profit organization that works to protect the rights of women and migrant workers in Malaysia.
In her testimony, Ms. Fernandez sought to prove that migrant workers have become a commodity by their own governments and that labor export policies maintain imperialist control and neoliberal policies. The current migration model allows the state the absolve itself care and governance of the people and results in the violation of human rights. The GFMD “pulls the wool over our eyes” by claiming that migration leads to development but in reality, migration benefits the global, capitalist economy and results in non-development for the people.
Ms. Fernandez particularly highlighted the issues of undocumented migration and human trafficking in Malaysia. Undocumented migrants suffer extreme violations of their rights as a result of state policies. The state has the right to determine who enters the country, but it must ensure the protection of human rights. Additionally, human trafficking “is a multi-dimensional problem, analyzed and discussed from social, economic, criminological and other perspectives – and linked to issues such as gender, health, migration, development and economics.” However, the current approach, the Palermo Protocol, largely fails to address the roots causes of trafficking.
Please see below for the full testimony of Irene Fernandez:
Irene Fernandez affidavit
Antonia Tujan testified as an expert witness before the Tribunal. He is the director of the IBON Foundation, a non-profit research institution that promotes alternative development paradigms and conducts research on migration and its effects on Philippine society. His testimony proves that the acts and policies of the Defendants do not lead to development but rather exacerbate underdevelopment. The ideology that “migration leads to development” promotes the commodification of labor and further violates the social, economic, and political rights of the Complainants.
In his testimony, Mr. Tujan challenged the ideology of the GFMD and member states that “migration leads to development.” He discussed the effect of Labor Export Policy on the Philippines and emphasized the need for a human rights based approach to migration policy.
The “avowed mission” of the GFMD is the ““maximization of migration’s development benefits while minimizing its negative impacts.” However, the GFMD focuses on maximizing remittances for government policy while paying “mere lip-service to the protection of migrant human rights.” In the Philippines, the consequences of labor export policy far outweigh the benefits. Labor Export Policy does little to alleviate unemployment, poverty, and leads to the departure of skilled labor from the Philippines. The state must fulfill its role of protecting and promoting the rights of individuals.
For the complete testimony of Antonio Tujan, please see below:
Antonio Tujan Jr affidavit
Antonio testifying before judges
From left: Bishop Soritua Nababan, Monique Wilson, Niikura Osamu, Ana Lorena Delgadillo, and Roland Tolentino
1. Reverend Doctor Soritua Nababan of the Protestant Christian Batak Church is the current president of the World Council of Churches. He has a long history of involvement in Christian organizations including the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, and the Christian Conference of Asia.
2. Monique Wilson is a famous Filipino actress, feminist, and activist. She played Kim in the West End production of Miss Saigon in addition to appearing in countless stage productions, movies, television shows, and recorded albums. She is a member of Gabriela Women’s Party and spearheading the “One Billion Rising” campaign in the Philippines.
3. Osamu Niikura is the current secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the vice president of the Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Association (JALISA).
4. Ana Lorean Delgadillo is the current director of the Foundation for Justice and Rule of Law in Mexico which works with families of migrants to promote truth and justice for victims of crimes during transit through Mexico. Previously, she directed the Department of Truth and Justice for the Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women in Ciudad, Juarez, and Chihuahua.
5. Roland Tolentino is a teacher, writer, and activist, and the current dean of the College of Mass Communications at the University of the Philippines, Diliman campus.