Zimbabwe adopts treaty to protect migrant workers

Review & Mail Writer

Cabinet has approved the country’s accession to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their families, which will enjoin the country to accord and protect rights of the group.

According to United Nations, “accession” refers to an action by a state to accept the offer or the opportunity to become a party to a treaty already negotiated and signed by other states and this action has the same legal effect as “ratification”. Accession happens when the treaty is already in force.

On the other hand, an international convention or treaty is an agreement between different countries that is legally binding to the contracting States, according to the United Nations, and existing international conventions cover different areas such as trade, science, crime, disarmament, transport, and human rights

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members, adopted by the United Nations in 1990, entered into force on 1 July 2003.

It seeks to address the vulnerability of migrant workers and members of their families in foreign lands.

Explaining the import of the treaty, Information Minister Jenfan Muswere said during the post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday: “The Convention provides migrant workers and their families the following rights, among others: to leave any State including their State of origin; to enter and remain in their State of origin; to hold opinions without interference; to freedom of thought and equal protection from heavy penalties; not to be subjected to torture or to cruel or inhuman treatment; not to be arbitrarily deprived of property; the right to protection and assistance from consular or diplomatic authorities of their State; and the right to equal working conditions with nationals of the State.”

The convention covers the entire migration process of migrant workers and members of their families, which comprises preparation for migration, departure, transit and the entire period of stay and remunerated activity in the State of employment as well as return to the State of origin or the State of habitual residence.

Zimbabwe is home to significant numbers of migrant workers.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, Zimbabwe has a long history of labour migration and has been a sender, transit and receiver of migrants.

Inward migration has mostly been from neighbouring countries, such as Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa as well as others from Central, Western and Eastern Africa.

The causes of migration being both economic and political.

There are also a number of European and lately Asian migrant workers in the country.

Historically, some migrants have been ill-treated, poorly paid and unfairly dismissed from employment.

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