Need legal framework to safeguard migrants’ rights: Swedish minister

He made the observation while talking about the “benefits” of migration.

Delivering a lecture in Dhaka on Tuesday, he said that putting the framework in place would not be enough. “We need to ensure implementation.”

Johansson came to Dhaka on Monday on a two-day visit to “deepen” relations with Bangladesh in the key area of migration, in light of Bangladesh’s chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).

Sweden is traditional a country where asylum seekers get shelter. On the contrary, Bangladesh is primarily a country of origin from where people migrate and remit back home.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam acknowledged Sweden’s contribution to the cause of “global migration” and said Stockholm remains “a most trusted friend and partner in our development journey.”

He said in Bangladesh and elsewhere, migration has played “a crucial role” in uplifting people from poverty, but has also contributed to the economic development in the destination economies, which he said was “little recognised and mapped”.

“Migration has to be regarded as a key factor in economic emancipation,” he said at the event, organised jointly by Bangladesh and Sweden.

The Swedish minister agreed with the state minister and said in Europe people mostly debate on the negative side of migration.

“But we can also discuss the benefits of migration,” he said, adding that in Sweden 24 percent of the people have a history of migration with at least one of their parents born outside Sweden.

“They contributed to Sweden’s development.”

He, however, stressed on the necessity to make a world where “people will migrate out of choice, not out of necessity”.

He said when they migrate, “we need to prevent labour exploitation and discrimination both nationally and globally”.

“We also need to lower the wage gap between the migrants and nationals (of the destination country).”

“In the 2030 agenda we have committed to protect the rights of migrants and migrant workers’ rights,” Johansson reminded all countries.

“My government (Sweden) takes this responsibility very seriously.”

He pointed out some of the issues to ensure migrants’ rights.

It is “not acceptable” when people renegotiate after migration, he said. The recruiters should not be able to change the promises of wage or living condition they made before the migration.

He also insisted on lowering the costs of recruitment processes, besides supporting the right to unite under a trade union for migrants.

“Low skill workers sometimes end up paying the third of their foreign earnings in the recruitment process,” he lamented.

“The issue of corrupt and unethical recruitment processes are prevalent. We need partnerships with the private sectors.”

He also made a call to facilitate “circular migration”; that means people can move legally back and forth between countries.

“By this, they will be able to better contribute to their countries with their knowledge, skills and networks,” he said, vowing to work together with Bangladesh to ensure “safe, orderly, regular and responsible” migration by 2030 as part of the SDGs.

He, however, criticised the UN system and said this system has been a “very big disappointment”.

“We (Sweden) did not start war at Iraq. We did not start the war at Syria either,” he said.

“Some other countries are involved in the process,” he said, without citing any names. “Some of the countries do not want to take responsibility (of migrants).”

As Europe is facing the worst-ever migration crisis, he said last year 160,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, which is twice the number than the previous year.

He said the UN did a “fantastic job” in saving lives with its different agencies, but its main task was to maintain peace.

He, however, said “we as member countries have failed to keep up the task (maintaining peace)

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