State to harmonise laws to protect labour migrants

The government is working to ensure that labour migration laws are harmonised to protect those seeking opportunities abroad.

Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui says there are many statutes governing labour migration which have created loopholes for Kenyans seeking employment mainly in domestic work to be exploited.

The CS was speaking Monday during the Regional Ministerial forum on Harmonizing Labour Migration Policies in East and Horn of Africa held in Nairobi to dialogue on forging a common approach towards safe, orderly and human labour migration in East and Horn of Africa.

The two-day forum has brought together Ministers in charge of Labour and Social Protection and Senior Government official from Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania and Regional Offices East African Community, the African Union and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.

Chelugui blamed the shortcoming in the labour migration laws which have allowed cartels take advantage to traffic unsuspecting Kenyans.

To ensure that going forward no Kenyans are lured to false promises, Chelugui says the government will initiate thorough vetting of employment bureaus to weed out rogue individuals.

The CS also promised that the ministry will soon release Ksh4.4 billion social protection to needy Kenyans.

He said the implementation of various frameworks on free movement put in place by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and East African Community and the Global Compact for Migration among others will enhance regional integration on migrants.

He said the labour migration has immense socio-economic benefits such as job creation, providing livelihoods for migrant workers, addressing skills gaps in destination countries of origin, being avenues of technology and skills- transfer between countries.

“A number of our governments have concluded bilateral labour agreements with various labor destinations countries but the ultimate goal must be to conclude bilateral agreements with all key countries,” stressed the CS.

It is important for the region to continuously identify potential labour destination countries and initiate negotiations, noting that lack of timely and comprehensive labour market information on labour migration hinders development and implementation of appropriates policies and strategies.

“This calls for the need to address the data gaps through the development of labour market information systems for migrant workers and those in the diaspora, as the system will help in collection, analysis and dissemination of data on labour migration,” said the CS.

He added that the system is also useful in policy formulation, job search and matching of local skills to foreign job opportunities.

Chelugui at the same time announced that human trafficking and smuggling have been identified as a leading form of transnational organized crime in the region.

“This region is perceived to be a source, transit and destination for migrant workers being trafficked and smuggled. Discussion between countries and regional cooperation are required to facilitate implementation and enforcement of legislation on anti-trafficking and smuggling in persons in member states,” he said.

Studies have shown that an estimated 80 per cent of migration in Africa happens within the continent.

A report published by International Organization for Migration in 2019 revealed that more than 57 per cent of the more than 390,000 movements observed in the East and Horn of Africa region in that year, was due to economic reasons.


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