Geneva: Chinese construction companies registered in Serbia along with Vietnamese labour recruitment agencies are implicated in serious human rights abuses against Vietnamese migrant workers, the UN Human Rights has alleged.
According to the UN Human Rights experts, there are eight such companies involved in trafficking of Vietanamese migrant workers to Serbia, that have made a group of approximately 400 Vietnamese migrant workers victims of forced labour in Serbia.
“We are deeply concerned that these migrant workers may have been trafficked for purposes of forced labour, and have been living and working in appalling conditions in Serbia, at serious risk to their lives and health,” the independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council said in a statement on January 21, 2022.
“We are also very disturbed by allegations that civil society organizations have not been allowed to access to locations where workers are accommodated in order to provide assistance,” stated the experts – Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Elżbieta Karska (Chairperson), Githu Muigai (Vice Chairperson), Surya Deva, Fernanda Hopenhaym, Anita Ramasastry Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
“Partnerships and cooperation with civil society, including trade unions, NGOs, and human rights defenders, are essential to ensure protection of trafficked persons,” they added.
The experts urged the Governments of Serbia, Vietnam and China to ensure that businesses based in their territory or operating under their jurisdiction respect the human rights of all workers. “This includes not only the businesses who rely on migrant labour but also labour recruitment agencies,” they said. The regulation and monitoring of labour recruitment agencies is also critical for the effective prevention of trafficking for the purposes of forced labour.
They also highlighted the obligations of businesses to exercise due diligence in ensuring that the rights of all workers are protected, without discrimination, recognising the particular needs and rights of migrant workers.
The experts have written to eight businesses implicated in the serious human rights allegations in connection with this case, recalling their obligations of due diligence under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The experts are also in contact with the Serbian, Vietnamese and Chinese authorities, they said.
– global bihari bureau