PH, Nepal human rights bodies vow stronger cooperation on migrant workers’ rights

Micah Avry Guiao
Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon says the partnership is 'more than welcome' as the Philippines and Nepal are two countries facing challenges when it comes to foreign labor

PARTNERS. Officials of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and Nepal's National Human Rights Commission agree to cooperate to the improvement of advocacies. Photo by Micah Avry Guiao

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday, June 20, vowed to forge a stronger cooperation for the protection of migrant workers’ rights.

CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon said further cooperation between the two countries is “more than welcome” since the Philippines and Nepal find themselves in “similar circumstances,” as Asian countries face the same challenges when it comes to foreign labor.

The meeting, joined by NHRC Commissioners Sudip Pathak and Govind Sharma Paudyal, was a “laboratory for what might be possible” through strategic mapping, sharing of information about cases that demand attention, and working closely with counterparts in Qatar.

There are over 400,000 Nepali and 260,000 Filipino migrant workers in Qatar.

Reports of migrants’ rights violations have been documented in Qatar amid the construction of a football stadium for the 2022 World Cup. In addition, reports of mistreatment among the migrant workforce have been flooding in.

“Ultimately, there was a commitment on the part of Qatar that they will abide by international labor standards, the only way by which we can ensure that is to surface the issues,” Gascon said.

“That’s why we need to work very closely with our respective embassies there to make sure that any issues involving labor rights will be quickly addressed by the Qatar government,” he added. 

Additional mechanisms

Aside from meetings with CHR, Nepal’s NHRC also met with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, as well as a few civil society groups to extensively discuss issues regarding migrant workers. 

The two commissions also hope that the partnership between CHR and NHRC will open the door for the establishment of human rights protection mechanisms, especially in the Middle East.

The initiative might “create a momentum among countries to set up this additional mechanism of protection” if the collaboration between CHR and NHRC Nepal is successful.

“The people of human rights never rest,” Pathak said. –

Micah Avry Guiao is a Rappler intern from the Ateneo de Manila University.