How to Strengthen the Protection of Migrant Workers in the Americas?

Category: 

The new dynamics of migration in the Americas are closely linked to the search of new opportunities of employment and income generation.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that around 27% of all migrant workers worldwide are in the Americas (37 million in North America and 4.3 million in Latin America and the Caribbean), a figure which is increasing.  Between 2010 and 2015, the number of migrant workers in the region increased by 34 per cent.

This mobility is motivated by the search of better opportunities of employment and the desire of improving the quality of life of migrants, which interacts with other structural factors as poverty and lack of security, which are also drivers of migration.

The increase in the flow of migrant workers has considerable challenges in a labor market marked by unemployment and informality. According to data of ILO, unemployment affects 26 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean and at least 133 million people are impacted by informality, particularly women, youth and low-skilled workers with low educational attainment.

Against this backdrop, the 19th American Regional Meeting of ILO, celebrated from October 2-5 in Panama with the participation of IOM, and its report “Preparing the future of work we want in the Americas through social dialogue” offers 10 recommendations to improve the protection of labor rights in migrant population and to promote migrant participation in the discussion and consideration to achieve the overall goal of decent work for all.

  1. Approach labor migration from a perspective of human rights, aligned with the principles of social justice and decent work.
  2. Address the gaps and fragmentation of migration governance in the regional integration agreements.
  3. Strengthen the labor rights approach in migration governance institutions.
  4. Promote the participation of labor issues key stakeholders in the regional consultation processes on migration.
  5. Integrate social dialogue about migration in the different processes of regional integration.
  6. Include Labor Ministries in the work of intergovernmental commission about migration.
  7. Promote measures to align migration and employment policies.
  8. Improve the capacities of institutions linked to the labor market to address issues of labor migration.
  9. Increase the participation of migrant workers in unions and associations to ensure their voice is included in processes of social dialogue.
  10. Improve knowledge and information about labor migration through the creation of information systems and statistical records.

Regarding the recommendations, Michela Macchiavello, IOM Regional Thematic Specialist for Labor Migration, underscored the growing importance of articulation with regional consultation processes on migration and the establishment of partnerships. In the Americas, the Regional Conference on Migration (CRM), for North and Central American countries, and the South American Conference on Migration, for South American countries; and most recently, the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC) are particularly relevant to the discussion, as they focus more and more on labor migration issues.

“IOM believes that a comprehensive governmental approach and the creation of partnerships that include agencies related to migration, civil society, the private sector, workers, migrant representatives and international are a priority for the effective and humane advancement of national and regional policies, including labor migration policies and programs that promote a regular, orderly and secure migration, while they provide protection to migrants and workers who are more vulnerable”.

Without a doubt, migration and labor mobility are and will continue to be of increasing importance for the world of work and, therefore, will require the attention and collaborative action of governments and other relevant stakeholders.

 

 

   Sobre la autora:

Sofía Guerrero holds a Communications degree of the University of Costa Rica and a Master in International Human Rights of the Josef Korbel Schoof of International Studies of the University of Denver. She was a journalis at La Nación, Advocacy and International Cooperation Coordinator at Fundacion Paniamor, Communications Coordinator for Executive Education at INCAE Business School, and consultant for the Central American Integration System and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Wordship of Costa Rica. Recently, she worked as a Foreign Policy Attaché at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica. 

 


Responding to hate speech against migrants in social media: What can you do?

Responding to hate speech against migrants in social media: What can you do?
Categoria: Migrant Protection and Assistance
Autor: Guest Contributor

"We all have to remember that hate crimes are preceded by hate speech." This is how Adama Dieng, UN's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, starts the Stopping Hate Speech video. "We have to bear in mind that words kill. Words kill as bullets", he continued.

To speak about hate speech it is necessary to refer to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The article stresses the importance of freedom of expression, but it also calls attention to the responsibilities that come with it. 

The United Nations has recently launched the "UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech", to strengthen UN actions that address the causes of hate speech, and the impact this discourse has within societies. Among other measures, the strategy includes monitoring and analyzing data, using technology, and engaging with new and traditional media. It also encourages more research on the relationship between the misuse of the Internet and social media for spreading hate speech, and the factors that drive individuals towards violence.

Just like the UN must assume responsibility, traditional media oulets also face challenges in guaranteeing that the information they offer on migrants is conscientious and data-based (here are some recommendations on how to do this).

But beyond these institutional responsibilities, the reality is that thousands of people publish hate filled content on their social media every day, sometime explicitly calling for violent actions against migrant populations and other vulnerable groups. What can each of us do to fight back against this content?

  • Speak up against hate: Silence and apathy can be taken as acceptance. Comments on social networks are more than just words, and should not be seen as harmless, especially when social networks are a source of information for migrants and contribute to their experiences. According to the Department of Justice of the United States, "insults can escalate to harassment, harassment can escalate to threats, and threats to physical violence." Intervening assertively is important both in the digital world and in face-to-face situations. However, it is necessary to assess the risk in each context to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Create positive content: To counteract the weight of hate speech, it is necessary to create and share empathetic information. According to Cristina Gallach, High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, to combat this problem, we must present images that appeal to the best of us, and focus on powerful and universal messages that unite us through our shared values.
  • Avoid sharing sensational videos and photos: Even when it is to criticize this type of content, sharing it will increase traffic to the channels and users that broadcast negative media.
  • Report on the platform: Each social network has its own guidelines on which content is acceptable or not not. While there are teams dedicated to verify this information, in many cases it is necessary to report it for it to be seen. Facebook continually checks if there are new vulnerable populations that should be included in their protected categories, and on previous occasions, migrants have fit within this group. According to the Facebook hard questions blog:

"When the influx of migrants arriving in Germany increased in recent years, we received feedback that some posts on Facebook were directly threatening refugees or migrants. We investigated how this material appeared globally and decided to develop new guidelines to remove calls for violence against migrants or dehumanizing references to them — such as comparisons to animals, to filth or to trash. But we have left in place the ability for people to express their views on immigration itself."

There is a whole discussion about whether social media companies are the ones who should define, in their own platforms, what constitutes freedom of expression and what constitutes hate speech, but that is material for another blog. Here you can see what kind of content to report in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

  • Report to the authorities: When there are personal threats to the physical integrity or the lives of others, it is time to report the situation to the competent authorities to intervene. Since the digital world moves faster than changes in laws, there may be "holes" in the regulations that will hinder intervention. Documenting hazardous materials through screenshots and collecting as much information as possible about the aggressor before they close their account will be useful for the reporting process. Platforms and companies can also be reported if they spread violent content. For example, a few months after the massacres in two mosques in Christchurch (New Zealand), the Australian government approved new legislation against spaces that do not quickly eliminate "violent and abominable material".

“We need to use the verb to become a tool for peace, a tool for love, a tool for increase social cohesion”, said Adama, later in the video. Let’s speak up against hate speech.