Migrant worker cases are complicated. This is especially so when the workers have returned to their home countries. Fortunately, difficult does not mean impossible. With work and training migrant workers who have returned from Hong Kong and Singapore can pursue justice from abroad.
We recently introduced this topic in two trainings in Depok and Surabaya. Themed “Filing Civil SuitS for Migrant Workers in Singapore and Hong Kong from abroad” 40 participants from migrant worker organizations spanning Lampung, Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, and East Java joined the two trainings.
These events sought to equip migrant worker advocates, who daily deal with cases, with the skills needed to identify potential claims and to collect the evidence needed to pursue the claims. Lawyers from Singapore and Hong Kong joined the events as trainers, offering both legal perspectives and advice on practical skills.
In Depok, Stephanie Teh from Tan Kok Quan and Jason Lee from Peter Low & Choo LLC, lawyers from Singapore, were invited as key speakers to explain in details the rights of migrant workers and dispute settlement mechanisms available. The same materials were also given by two lawyers from Hong Kong, Jeremy Haywood and Harry Edwards who work as lawyers in Herbert Smith Freehills law firm.
Learning About Settlements and Working With Partners Abroad
Contrary to what most people see in court dramas, our four volunteer lawyers emphasized out-of-court settlements as the most important target in winning cases. Doing so gives workers a chance to get compensation quickly and efficiently, while avoiding potential court costs. Part of successful settlement negotiations involve building strong evidence—faced with a potentially costly and losing legal battle, many defendants will offer to settle the claim. Participants practiced their evidence collection skills in a case simulation, identifying claims and what materials they might try to collect.
The trainings closed with details on how to pursue claims through working with lawyers abroad and the logistical challenges they and their clients might face in settling a cross-border case.
Turning Training into Practice
Following both events, participants sat with JWB and our lawyers to consult on their current cases. We identified several clients who still had potentially viable claims in Singapore or Hong Kong. Our partners’ newfound knowledge also helped them understand the immediate next steps they had to take to bring these cases.
These trainings are of course just the first step. Armed with new information, our partners on the front line can jump-start a movement of cross-border dispute settlement, enabling more workers to go home and move forward with their lives without giving up their claims. We and our partners are committed to helping that movement grow as we continue to work to improve our partners’ capacities in Indonesia and beyond.