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UN Committee on migrants’ rights hails new International Convention on Domestic Workers

GENEVA (21 June 2011) – A United Nations expert committee on migrants’ rights welcomed the recent adoption by the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the International Convention on Domestic Workers, a landmark legal instrument aimed to protect the rights and improve the conditions of life of domestic workers, millions of whom are migrants.

“Migrant domestic workers are at heightened risk of certain forms of exploitation and abuse, due to the vulnerability, isolation and dependence in which most find themselves,” said human rights expert Abdelhamid El Jamri, who currently heads the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

“Women migrant domestic workers, in particular, face additional risks related to their gender, including gender-based violence,” Mr. El Jamri noted. “These risks and vulnerabilities are further aggravated for migrant domestic workers who are in an irregular situation, not least because they may fear deportation if they contact State authorities to seek protection from an abusive employer.”

The new ILO standards set out that domestic workers around the world who care for families and households, must have the same basic labor rights as those recognized for other workers: reasonable hours of work, weekly rest for at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on payment in-kind, clear information on the terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

“Speedy ratification and further implementation of the ILO Convention will improve the respect for the rights of migrant domestic workers,” the Chair of UN expert committee stressed.

Mr. El Jamri recalled the Committee’s General Comment No.1 on Migrant Domestic Workers, adopted in November 2010,* and invited States to be guided by it in the implementation of the rights of migrant domestic workers and encouraged States that have not yet done so, to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families by its State parties. It held its first session in March 2004.

(*) Check the Committee’s General Comment No.1 on Migrant Domestic Workers, November 2010: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cmw/cmw_migrant_domestic_workers.htm

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Committee, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cmw/index.htm

See the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cmw.htm

The International Convention on Domestic Workers: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@ed_norm/@relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_157836.pdf

For more information or media requests, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or press officers Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) and Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org).

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