Role of media in safe labour migration discussedThe journalists who attended the discussion said the unavailability of data, even from the concerned government bodies, was one of the major difficulties for evidence-based reporting.
The media can play a more effective role to bring into light the issues of foreign labour migration in the coming days, labour migration experts said on Thursday.
“The role of the media has been instrumental in raising awareness related to the migration process to both workers and policymakers,” said Shom Luitel, a lawyer with expertise on migrant workers’ rights at a panel discussion titled “Role of media on safe immigration”, organised by People Forum for Human Rights.
“There have been critical, investigative and research-based news stories on the plights of workers as well as the existing and upcoming policies, creating a national discourse.”
Kamal Thapa, migrants' rights advocate and international relations officer at National Human Rights Commission, said evidence-based media reports have helped authorities take effective actions.
Nabaraj Dahal, general secretary of the Joint Trade Union Coordination Centre, argued that the government’s ‘free visa, free ticket’ policy would have been a success if the media had publicised it accordingly.
Implemented in July 2015, the policy obligates employers from labour-receiving countries to bear the cost of visa processing and air ticket to hire workers from Nepal.
Though the policy demands that a worker has to pay no more than Rs 10,000 to recruiting agencies in service charges if their employers are not bearing the cost, thousands of migrant workers have been paying exorbitant recruitment fees to third-party recruitment agents to secure foreign jobs.
While concerns were raised about its implementation right from the beginning, even a House panel report in 2017 said that the highly ambitious government scheme had been a complete failure.
The journalists who attended the discussion said the unavailability of data, even from the concerned government bodies, was one of the major difficulties for evidence-based reporting.
They also questioned why there were no women on the panel and in-depth discussion on ensuring safe mobility for women migrant workers.
The journalists called for organising more capacity-building programmes to enhance their journalistic skills.
“Besides issues regarding recruitment and access to justice, the media can also disseminate the stories of women migrant workers in a more balanced way,” said Luitel. “While the male migrant workers are portrayed as heroes for sending remittance, women workers are often shown as a victim.”
Concerns were also raised on the issues of Nepalis working in India.
Despite a large number of Nepalis migrating to India for seasonal and other work, there is neither data to access the situation nor laws and policies to provide them assistance in times of need.