Governments have played a key role in fighting exploitation, but their partnership with civil society is where they can truly leverage their power to improve lives. Nowhere is this more true than for Ministries of Foreign Affairs, who seek to protect their citizens working abroad, often with the help of NGOs who work on the ground in destination countries.
JWB and the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) recognized the potential of partnering across entire migration routes to protect vulnerable Indonesian workers abroad and returned home. In 2019, we joined forces with MOFA to speak with communities in Jogjakarta and Central Java about migrant workers’ rights. With villages often spread out, we joined MOFA representatives on two radio talk shows in the towns of Purwakarta and Wonosobo to share about JWB’s civil litigation work across borders. Working together, MOFA and JWB presented a strong message of public-private partnership in serving those who have worked abroad.
Our work with MOFA then turned to supporting the Ministry’s own staff development. With civil litigation for migrant workers being a new topic for many of the diplomatic corps, we hosted an informational workshop titled ‘Cross-border Case Handling Training: Learning from the Cases of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Singapore and Hong Kong’. 23 senior officers from different MOFA departments attended the training workshop.
Among the topics covered, staff members found the session on available legal redress and options in Hong Kong and Singapore most enlightening since most were unfamiliar with overseas law on migrant workers. They were also very impressed by the numerous case learning and strategic remedies developed by JWB to ensure the best outcome for the victims.
Apart from arming participants with knowledge on compensation claims, the workshop was also an excellent way to show what the private sector was doing to enable access to justice for migrant workers, and how a public-private partnership could take this even further. It also opened the door for JWB and MOFA to consult and collaborate on cases and migrant worker issues in the future.
A tangible example of this came towards the end in the discussion about lawyer recruitment. This subject was considered critical to MOFA in fulfilling its key mandate of providing maximum protection to Indonesian citizens abroad. During the discussion, MOFA invited the JWB team to share their experience on the subject and even requested to consult them on MOFA’s lawyer recruitment exercises in the future.
“Our relationship with MOFA is growing from strength to strength, and we are excited to see how the public-private spheres, working together, can fast-track our shared objective of making access to justice a reality for migrant workers in Indonesia. For JWB, this is only the first step and we look forward to expanding our relationship to MOFA’s embassies abroad where migrant workers often go for help.” said Douglas MacLean, Executive Director for Justice Without Borders.