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CARAM eNews - November 2007
One Paid Day Off Campaign Takes Off!

With a multimedia presentation on  pictures of Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) mobilised in Hong Kong and a presentation from Dolores Balladares, a FDW from the Philippines based in Hong Kong, the regional campaign, “Recognise Domestic Work as Work” has begun.  As a kick start to the campaign, the United for Foreign Domestic Workers Rights (UFDWRs) launched its “One Paid Day (24hrs) Off A Week” campaign for foreign domestic workers, on the 4th November 2007, at the 3rd ASEAN Civil Society Conference in Singapore.

During the campaign launch, three thematic inputs for discussion from APWLD, CARAM Asia and Mekong Migration Network (MMN) stimulated fruitful discussions.  APWLD spoke about the issue of FDWs in the context of women’s human rights. CARAM Asia highlighted the lack of health rights and wellbeing of FDWs in all stages of migration. MMN underscored peculiar migration situations in the Mekong region by inputting on the impacts of social and political conditions on FDWs in the Mekong region. Read

Click here for the Statement & flyer issued in Singapore. 

LHRLA Spearheads National Coalition
Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA) will be leading a newly formed national coalition for the protection of rights of migrant workers. The coalition comprised of civil society organisations, relevant Pakistan government departments, trade unions and a recruitment agents association was built at a workshop jointly organised by LHRLA in Karachi on 23 to 24 October, 2007.

The national coalition building workshop united participants to lobby the Pakistan government for signing the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990). The coalition formed with multi-stakeholders will also be identifying strategies to campaign for domestic work to be recognised as work. Read

Local NGO with Regional Clout
By seizing the presence of activists from 15 countries in Phnom Penh to collectively lobby the Cambodian stakeholders on migrant workers’ rights, CARAM Cambodia has shown that it is a local NGO that can effectively use external pressure to affect change. 
CARAM Cambodia successfully co-hosted the “Capacity Building on Human Rights and Migrant Workers in the Asia-Pacific Region” from the 15 to 19 October that brought together 34 participants from the Asia Pacific region. It was organised with the Diplomacy Training Program of The University of New South Wales.
During the workshop, CARAM Cambodia arranged a lobbying exercise for participants to meet with officials from two government ministries and the recruitment agents' association. Despite it being planned just as “a sharing of experience” from international NGO activists and the Cambodian government officials, one of the group meeting with officials from the Ministry of Labour resulted in a fruitful lobbying exercise. Read

Reclaiming Migrant’s Voting Rights
When migrant workers can decide who to rule their home countries, ruling political parties will have to defend the human rights of this specific constituency. Determined to secure future political mileage for migrant workers’ issues, Migrant Services Centre (MSC) is advocating for the voting rights of Sri Lankan migrant workers.

In it’s bid towards this end, MSC held a workshop on 17 Oct 2007 at the Auditorium of Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA) in Colombo on “The Political Rights of Sri Lankan Expatriates”. The workshop attracted academics, representatives from the business fraternity, trade unions, international & local non-governmental organisations, civil society members, diplomats, professionals from the private sector and officials from the public sector.

Besides the workshop, MSC is also collecting signatures from migrant worker’s families to retrieve voting rights for migrant workers. The signatures will be handed to the Sri Lankan President on International Migrants Day, on 18th December 2007.

Read here on MSC’s initiatives.

Highlights of 4th APCRSH
The 4th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSH) 2007 was held from 29 to 31 October at Hyderabad, India. The goal of the conference was to enhance and accelerate the process of realising the sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda in the countries of the Asia Pacific Region.

CARAM Asia’s representative noted that migrants and their sexual and health rights were less represented in most sessions. There were few oral presentations on migrant workers in China and Philippines. The primary focus was on migrants' awareness on reproductive health and HIV prevention. Read
Scaling Up HIV Interventions in Health Sector

 Towards Universal Access: Scaling up Priority HIV/AIDS Interventions In The Health Sector is published by WHO, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and UNICEF.

The report details a number of key areas in which efforts to scale up services are insufficient if the global goal of moving towards “universal access to comprehensive prevention programmes, treatment, care and support” for HIV by 2010 is to be achieved. For example, just 11% of HIV-positive pregnant women in need of antiretrovirals (ARVs) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in low- and middle-income countries are receiving them. Global coverage of HIV testing and counselling remains unsatisfactorily low, as does coverage of prevention and treatment interventions for injecting drug users. And while countries committed themselves to setting targets for universal access by the end of 2006, only 90 had provided data on these by that date. Read the full report here.

Sold to be Soldiers

Based on an investigation in Burma, Thailand and China, this 135-page report, The Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in Burma, found that Burmese military recruiters target children in order to meet unrelenting demands for new recruits due to continued army expansion, high desertion rates and a lack of willing volunteers. Non-state armed groups, including ethnic-based insurgent groups, also recruit and use child soldiers, though in far smaller numbers. Military recruiters and civilian brokers receive cash payments and other incentives for each new recruit, even if the recruit clearly violates minimum age or health standards. Read

Good Governance and Access to Basic Services

Good governance and Access to Basic Services for the Poor elaborates on the need for good governance to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and eradicate extreme poverty. It argues that achieving the Goals is not simply about money. It is about removing physical, legal, financial, socio-cultural and political barriers to basic services for all, in particular for the poor and disadvantaged groups.

This report presents a number of strategies for removing such barriers, including broadening the range of service providers to include the formal and informal private sector, civil society organisations and traditional institutions. Their involvement as service providers, however, requires a review and, where necessary, a revision of the framework that regulates the provision of basic services.

Paramount, however, is an adherence to good governance and the principles of inclusiveness and equity. Read