By Mohamed T. Massaquoi
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Mathew Theambo says irregular migration “poses grave dangers to the lives and fundamental rights of migrants.”
Speaking at the start of a four-day training of some 30 high-ranking and middle-level ministry officials on the “protection and empowerment of migrant workers and their families in Sierra Leone and destination countries, he said the issue was taking on “serious dimensions and alarming proportions”.
Conducted with support from Free Movement of Persons and Migration (FMM), the training is geared towards recognising the importance of labour migration for socio-economic development with an effort to implement the ECOWAS protocols and international conventions on the protection of migrants and their families.
Timbo said their challenge was to promote legal migration, regulate the market for private employment agencies and protect migrant workers from abuses so as to curb unfair competition in recruitment generally.
He said they could only achieve these goals by providing the requisite knowledge for stakeholders in migration management, especially on the protection of human rights for both men and women.
Equal opportunity and treatment remain to be their central focus as enshrined in various universal declarations, treaties, and conventions including protocols developed by the United Nations, the minister went on.
Project officer of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Hugo Tavares Augusto said the support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa aimed at strengthening the development potential of the free movement of persons in the region in supporting the implementation of the ECOWAS commission.
“It is essential to promote well managed labour migration flows and circulation that can provide benefits to all parties involved in the process, that which includes the migrants, their families as well as countries of origin and destination”, Augusto said.
He went on that due to the challenges related to the capacity to implement national labour legislation, international labour standards and the overall management and regulation of labour migration in the country from the political and operational standpoints, the labour ministry had submitted the request to the FMM West Africa Project.
European Union representative, N’fa Kargbo who is the cooperation officer, hoped that the second in a series of training programmes would contribute to enhancing migration governance capacity in the country.
He commended the ICMPD and the International Labour Organisation for “an essential collaboration” in delivering the project.
In September 2016, the UN General Assembly hosted a high-level summit to address the large movement of refugees and migrants, with the aim of bringing Heads of State and Government together for the first time behind a more humane and coordinated approach.
Kargbo said that in the process of regional integration, the free movement of labour constituted one of the key economic foundations, along with the free movement of goods and capital as commonalities between ECOWAS and the EU.
He said this sought to prevent and fight migrant smuggling, eradicate trafficking in human beings especially to combat those who exploit vulnerable people.
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