Nepal has ratified seven of the nine core international human rights treaties, but it has not engaged in meaningful cooperation with international human rights mechanisms. Nepal has ratified seven of the eight ILO fundamental conventions but has failed to ratify several instruments specifically designed to protect migrant workers’ rights. The country’s 2007 Foreign Employment Act (FEA) regulates private recruitment agencies, and empowers the Department of Foreign Employment (DOFE) to investigate fraudulent activities. The FEA mainly focuses on procedures although it provides some protections for migrant workers throughout the arc of the recruitment process, granting the right to insurance, setting a limit to the fees recruitment agencies can collect from workers, and prohibiting gender-based discrimination. The Act requires pre- departure orientation sessions, Nepali-language contracts, and airport contact points, but offers limited provisions in relation to their return and reintegration. It also fails to offer protections for undocumented migrants who are excluded from accessing grievance mechanisms and legal assistance. In addition to the FEA, Nepal’s civil and criminal law addresses fraudulent practices in recruitment, human trafficking, bonded labour and slavery. Civil society actors were heavily involved from an early stage in the development of the FEA, although worker organisations currently report that they are being excluded from policy and legislative reforms, in a trend consistent with the wider shrinking of civic space in Nepal. Recruiters also complain they are left out of the process, despite concerns about the influence of opaque industry lobbying efforts.
Qatar has ratified seven out of nine of the core international human rights treaties, and five of the eight core ILO conventions. The country is currently three years into a technical cooperation agreement with the ILO, and has launched a series of significant fair recruitment reforms as part of a wide-ranging labour reform process. The 2004 Labour Law contains protections against various abusive recruitment practices, including a prohibition on Qatari entities charging workers recruitment fees. Qatar’s legislation fails to address these initial worker selection processes in the country of migrant origin and deals only with subsequent stages such as visa processing, work contracts and repatriation of workers at end of service. This means that migrant workers entering Qatar have typically been recruited through registered or unregistered recruitment agencies, sub-agents and local brokers in the country of origin and have paid for those services. The 2004 Law excludes several categories of migrant workers, including domestic workers, who are the subject instead of a subsequent 2017 Law that fails to provide the same level of safeguards, and especially with regard to the payment of recruitment fees. Undocumented migrants including those who have fled from abusive employers are excluded from legal protections and face arrest and deportation. There are no Qatari worker organisations representing migrants. However, international trade unions have recently engaged in a sustained dialogue with the Qatari government to promote workers’ rights, including fair recruitment, under the ILO Technical Cooperation Programme. Private sector organisations are invited to input on legislative proposals by Ministries, the Shura Council and Council of Ministers. Legislation and regulation on recruitment agencies has not been revised since 2005.
Recommendations to the Government of Nepal:
- Ratify the ILO Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181) and in keeping with its provisions, fully prohibit the payment of fees and related costs, in line with the ILO definition, by migrant workers to recruitment agencies.
- Review and update the Foreign Employment Policy, which dates to 2012, prior to the transition to federal governance.
- Increase the transparency of processes to develop new laws and policies around migrant workers, and invite more structured participation from unions, civil society and the private sector.
Recommendations to the Government of Qatar:
- Ratify the ILO Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181) and amend legislation to align the definition of recruitment fees and related costs with the ILO definition.
- Provide domestic workers with the protection of the national Labour Law.