Communication rights help empower migrants
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Communication rights help empower migrants


Migrant construction workers outside of Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Flickr/Ronn aka “Blue” Aldaman.

The U.N. recently estimated that there are approximately 60 million refugees and internally displaced persons in the world, the highest number since World War II.

In the current issue of Media Development, the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) says that protecting the communication rights of migrants is essential to the concepts of freedom, democracy and justice, “concepts that many migrants feel are alien once they land in a country that is not their own.”

APMM partners with migrant-serving institutions, migrants’ rights advocates and, most importantly, migrants themselves in developing and conducting campaigns, activities and various initiatives that will be beneficial primarily to migrants as well as for all. Established in 1984, APMM is based in Hong Kong and has country coordinators in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Australia and the Middle East.

“What are communication rights? How do the promotion, recognition and protection of migrants’ rights contribute to the greater involvement and participation of migrants in shaping the society, both the country they currently live in as well as their respective home countries?” asks APMM in the article.

Communication rights, notes APMM, go beyond freedom of opinion and expression to include areas such as democratic media governance, media ownership and control, cultural diversity, linguistic rights, and the right to education, privacy, peaceful assembly, and self-determination – all questions of human dignity.

“While migrants are allowed to enter a country, their freedoms as well as their rights are limited. Migrant-related laws do not offer protection but rather make migrants more vulnerable to abuse, harm and exploitation. Places of refuge are scarce and a culture of discrimination and racism is fanned and promoted quite systematically,” writes APMM.

The APMM has partnered with WACC to launch campaigns and activities that actively engaged migrants, migrants’ rights advocates and service providers on the significance of communication rights in the context of migration.

One example was the Asia Pacific Conference on Alternative Radio Journalism and the Advancement of Migrants’ Rights and Welfare, held in Hong Kong in June 2012. Some 60 migrants, media practitioners, migrant service providers and social activists shared experiences on rights advocacy through alternative radio journalism and explored ways to use alternative media for the promotion of rights and welfare of migrants.

The two-day conference resulted in a relatively comprehensive view of the current conditions of those working in alternative media and how similar their situation is to that of migrant workers. Media repression and censorship are just as cruel as repression and violation of rights of migrants, yet both sectors continue to struggle against these barriers and steadfastly stand their ground.

To read more about the conference’s outcomes and further about work on communication rights and migrants, subscribe here to Media Development.

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