India: BWI Affiliates welcome the Draft Emigration Bill, 2019 to promote safe, orderly and regular migration

05 February 2019 18:13

Globally, India is one of the major countries of origin especially for semi-skilled and unskilled workers who need protection at various levels in their migration process. To protect these workers, a long-standing demand of the BWI Affiliates in India, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders has been to enact the Emigration Management Bill and replace the Emigration Act, 1983 (amended in 1987, 1989, 1996 and 2002) that was not in line with the changing global realities of migration.

In January the Indian Ministry of External Affairs finally come up with the Draft Emigration Bill 2019 that is aimed at improving the regulatory mechanism governing international migration and also harmonizing the legislative framework with relevant international conventions.

A key feature of the new Act is the establishment of Emigration Management Authority (EMA) at the Central level to oversee the welfare and protection of emigrants. Further, it proposes setting up of the Bureau of Emigration Policy and Planning as well as the Bureau of Emigration Administration (BEA) with offices in various parts of the country. Another important feature of the Bill is mandatory registration of all the migrants and students with certain riders, penalties and exemptions. The Act also states the implementation of appropriate measures and programmes for the welfare of emigration including insurance, skills training, pre-departure orientation and counseling. For the first time, sub-agents working with recruitment agencies have also been brought under the ambit of proposed Bill along with provisions for registration, rating and penalty in case of erring recruitment agencies/sub-agencies.

The BWI affiliates in India welcomes the draft Bill and have submitted their feedback and suggestions to the Ministry of External Affairs based on their experiences from the field including with outbound and returnee migrants. The feedback includes defining `exploitation’ so as to also include verbal and psychological abuse, inclusion of Trade Unions and CSOs in the new governing mechanism at the Central and State-levels, establishment of help-desks in all districts of high migration, clarity on role and responsibility of Indian Embassies and Consulates, Migrant Welfare Fund and also voting rights for migrant workers.

R.C. Khuntia, Chair, Indian Affiliates Council and former Member of Parliament commented "We welcome the Draft Management Bill 2019 and urge the Government of India to include comments and suggestions from the trade unions in the bill before tabling it in the Parliament. We expect an early enactment of the bill so that new implementation machinery could be put in place to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration from India."