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Inside CARAM-May07
Toolkit Launch: Catalyst to Empower FDWs
Galvanising Momentum for A Day Off Campaign
Act Now! Increase Universal Access to AIDS Treatment
Scrap Restrictive Mobility Laws For Migrants
Human Rights Watch's comment: UAE Draft Labour Law on FDW
Watch List- May07
OHCHR Commitee on Migrant Workers 6th Session (23 to 27 April 2007)
World Day for Safety and Health at Work (28 April 2007)
International Conference on the Issue of Refugees (9 to 11 May 2007)
Useful Readings - May07
State of the Worlds Children 2007
WHO: Towards Universal Access by 2010
Upcoming Events - May07
Sixtieth World Health Assembly (14 to 23 May 2007)
CEDAW 38th Session (14 May to 1 June 2007)
Provider Initiated Testing & Counseling Consultation Meeting (4 to 6 June 2007) in Cambodia
FIDH, BHRS & BCHR Regional Conference on Migration (10 to 11 June 2007) Doha, Qatar
CARAM Asia Migration, Health and Globalisation Capacity Building Workshop
CARAM Asia GIPA Workshop (27 to 29 June 2007) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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CARAM eNews May 2007
Toolkit Launch: Catalyst to Empower FDWs
Kicking off its first activity under the Foreign Domestic Worker taskforce, CARAM Asia launched its comprehensive Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Campaign Toolkit in Jakarta, Indonesia on 2nd May 2007. About 120 people attended the launch co-hosted by Solidaritas Perempuan and the National Commission on Violence Again Women in conjunction with Labour Day. Some 60 returnee FDWs, members of civil society, Human Rights Commissioners, ASEAN and ILO representatives and other relevant Indonesian government officials were present at this function, a reflection of this issue’s importance to Indonesia, a major sending country for FDWs.
The guest speaker was Mr Ade Adam Noh, deputy of the recently set up National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Overseas Labour. The institution which comes directly under the President’s office was hailed by activists as a positive outcome of years of hard work in advocating the need to protect the rights of migrant workers including FDWs. Other highlights at the launching were poetry reading based on testimonials of FDWs and a deeply moving testimony by Mrs Rohida, a FDW returnee.

The campaign toolkit is the outcome of the Regional Summit on Foreign Migrant Domestic Workers held from 26-28 August 2002 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At that summit, 132 participants comprising of NGOs, migrants, governments and UN agencies pledged to protect and realise FDW rights including health rights through what is known as the Colombo Declaration.

Present labour laws in receiving countries in the region exclude domestic work from legal frameworks and remedies, failing to defend them from any labour and human rights violations by unscrupulous agencies as well as exploitative and abusive employers.

The main objective of the campaign toolkit is to build capacity and empower FDW groups along with other support groups to exercise their labour and health rights. It is also a basis for a regional campaign aimed at sensitising attitudes towards FDWs.

For more details on CARAM Asia’s position on the FDW issue, click here.
Download the campaign tool here.

Galvanising Momentum for A Day Off Campaign

Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) are not recognised as workers and thus not protected under labour laws in the region. How do you protect & realise their health rights when they do not even have basic labour rights? Start with a day off from work. With a day off, they may leave their confined working place to voice out their problems, congregate to demand for their rights, have access to health services and other freedoms as a worker.

FDWs need a day off from work and NGOs will join forces to campaign for it. That concludes the decision of some 15 activists from the region at a Regional Campaign Strategy Meeting co-hosted by CARAM Asia and Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) on 3rd May in Jakarta, Indonesia.

A core group of regional networks will rally together establishing an alliance to develop a regional campaign aimed at securing a day off for FDWs. CARAM Asia and APWLD would be chair and co-chair of the secretariat coordinating activities for the group. Other members include Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), Asian Migrant Centre (AMC), Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Mekong Migration Network.

The objectives of the Regional Campaign Strategy Meeting on FDWs were to take stock and map different initiatives on FDWs since the Colombo Declaration in 2002 and to develop strategies protecting foreign domestic workers. It aimed to build an alliance towards moving forward a regional campaign.

Participants engaged in activities to map out what regional networks were currently involved in the area of FDWs. They discussed current international campaign initiatives and available international instruments and mechanisms. Finally, participants developed a strategic plan covering mobilisation at grassroots level, positive change in public perception and attitudes toward FDWs and also regional pressures directed at the state.

Act Now! Increase Universal Access to AIDS Treatment
Recent AIDS treatment access numbers released by the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of the dire consequences for people living with HIV and AIDS: Universal Access to AIDS treatment is destined to fall FIVE MILLION lives short. We have to act! How?

The Global AIDS Week of Action is a great opportunity for activists to demand a stronger response, greater accountability and more resources for the fight against HIV and AIDS. CARAM Asia calls upon partners and regional networks to:
  • urge concerned parties to speed up delivery of AIDS treatment to the millions who will die without access to these life saving drugs.
  • insist pharmaceutical companies cease threatening countries trying to provide affordable and sustainable treatment to their citizens
  • demand governments to keep their promises to provide adequate funding and develop ambitious national plans for AIDS treatment access
The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) has prepared a list of some of the things you can do on your own or working with others. We have to make phone calls, write emails, hold meetings and protest during the global week of action.  If you would like to see possible talking points for your campaign, click here for ITPC’s Action Alert for your perusal. 

Scrap Restrictive Mobility Laws For Migrants

April was a month of protesting against abusive national & provincial laws for CARAM Asia secretariat & partners. On 29 April, MAP & Raksthai Foundation called for the Thai government to repeal certain provincial decrees that restrict migrants' movement and all other policies which abuse the rights and discriminate against migrants. Under the umbrella body of Action Network for Migrants (Thailand) and PHAMIT, they organised a press conference at Thai labour museum. The next day, they submitted a petition letter to the national Human Rights Commission, ILO and the lawyer council of Thailand. Click here for the press statement.

In conjunction with labour day celebration, MAP and Raksthai with partners from The Action Network for Migrants (Thailand) and the PHAMIT network jointly organised May day's rally in Bangkok. Around 50 migrant workers joint the rally calling for the Thai government to protect the rights of migrants.

Earlier on, the CARAM Asia secretariat had also issued a statement regarding the growing trend to restrict migrant’s movement not only among provinces in Thailand but also in Malaysia. Visit the front page of our website for full details.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) has joined more than 141 human rights groups across the world as members of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) at the 36th FIDH Congress in Lisbon from 19 to 25 April 2007. This is a significant recognition for BCHR as it is officially banned in Bahrain.

In November 2004, the BCHR was ordered to close down by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, in Bahrain after president, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja criticized the Prime Minister of Bahrain during a public symposium about poverty in their country. Despite the ban, the BCHR has continued its human rights activities. The government has issued numerous threats warning that further legal action will be taken against their members should they continue their activities.
Abdulhadi Al Khawaja said membership in FIDH indicates the credibility of BCHR's work towards improving the human rights situation in Bahrain. Click for the statement.
Human Rights Watch's comment: UAE Draft Labour Law on FDW
The UAE’s proposal to introduce a new standard contract for domestic workers is not sufficient to shield domestic workers from labour exploitation. Instead, UAE Governments should extend equal protection of the labour law to domestic workers. The law should provide for the formation of independent unions free from employer and government interference. This is according to the Human Rights Watch’s comment on the draft labour law being circulated for public comments in UAE on domestic workers. Click here to see full comment.

State of The Worlds Children 2007
The UNICEF State of the World's Children 2007 report examines the discrimination and disempowerment women face throughout their lives - and outlines what must be done to eliminate gender discrimination and empower women and girls. It looks at the status of women today, discusses how gender equality will move all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) forward, and shows how investment in women's rights will ultimately produce a double dividend: advancing the rights of both women and children. Read...
WHO: Towards Universal Access by 2010
The WHO reports on Towards Universal Access by 2010 have garnered much criticism towards the world body and governments worldwide. Last month, WHO released a progress report and another advocacy report on Towards Universal Access by 2010. These reports together with other technical documents exposed the naked truth that:
  • Universal Access to AIDS treatment is destined to fall FIVE MILLION lives short.
  • The WHO is not sufficiently funded to maintain a strong focus on AIDS treatment scale-up.
  • The G8 countries have not adequately honored their 2005 Gleneagles commitments to universal access to treatment, prevention and care.
  • Some AIDS policy makers and advocates are pitting treatment and prevention against each other, failing to recognise that only a comprehensive response that integrates prevention, treatment and care will reverse the pandemic.
Select and download the revealing WHO reports from this web page.