The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has thrown a gauntlet at the developed countries to own up to their moral obligation dating back to the dark dreary days of enslavement.
“Many of the economies and the wealth of a number of countries were built on slavery. Those economies are strong today because of the contributions of forced labor,” she stated.
“There is a moral obligation for the developed world to make allowances for migrants,” Kadaga said, “A case should be made for giving back; we could have quotas for immigrants in different countries.”
Kadaga was addressing the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly which currently meeting in Geneva, on the Assembly theme: The moral and economic imperative for fairer, smarter and more humane migration.
Kadaga also challenged member countries of the IPU to set aside a contingency fund to cater for migrants seeking refuge in the various countries.
“When they move in large numbers they have an impact on the state of the environment and also put pressure on the local facilities, the local leadership and the local communities of the places in which they land,” she said.
“Isn’t it time that the countries of destination put into place contingency funds to cater for the possibility of housing, feeding and settling migrants in large numbers?” she quipped.
Statistics that Kadaga quoted indicate that at least 247 million people worldwide are international migrants owing to various reasons; and that it was usually a pained choice for them to leave their own countries for another one.
“The decision to uproot oneself from family and from one’s country for the unknown is not one that migrants take lightly,” she said.
On the economic level, Kadaga also highlighted some irregularities of direct foreign investment into developing countries, stating that the bulk of the profits were being repatriated to the investor’s countries, and not necessarily leaving much in the local country.
“It is in the interest of the investors to create economic stability,” she affirmed, “It is important that the developed countries invest in infrastructure and industries to create jobs in the less developed countries.”
The Speaker also hinted on the double standards in the judicial systems and complicity amongst state authorities.
“I have heard about trials of some war criminals but who is pursing the traffickers? Is anyone looking for their collaborators?” She asked.
“Human trafficking is a thriving business, internationally how does one explain that people who have no legitimate reason to cross the border to another country, do so successfully without invitation letters? This points to complicity by the immigration officers at border points, it also points to complicity by the airlines and other transporters. It is a well-organized international racket.”
Kadaga highlighted the disparity with which certain categories of migrants were treated.
“It is the ultimate irony that in some countries once the expertise of an individual migrant is identified, they will be very quick to not only offer residence but also citizenship. The unskilled, though deserving, will not be handled in the same way.”
The Speaker, a renowned advocate for the regulation of international domestic workers, further cited its main ambiguity.
“This is one sector where workers are vulnerable to sexual abuse, sexual harassment, physical assault and violence; food and sleep deprivation and cruelty by the employers. In a number of countries, domestic work or the entertainment industry are not classified as work and therefore does not qualify for legal protection under the labor laws of these specific countries.”
“In all, whether the migrants are leaving the country of origin, in transit and in the destination country, it is necessary that we observe and ensure their basic human rights,” Kadaga concluded.
The 133rd IPU Assembly that has been meeting in Geneva, Switzerland from 17th – 21st October is expected to come up with a resolution on the theme, that will be adopted and implemented by member countries.