Sunday, August 16, 2009

APMM on arrest of Migrante leaders

Press Statement
16 August 2009

For reference:
Aaron Ceradoy
Program Coordinator
Tel. No.: (852) 92706460

To escape from abuses is not a crime and those who help victims are not criminals
HK group expresses concern on arrest of Migrante leaders in KSA

The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) expresses our gravest concern on the arrest of several leaders and members of Migrante in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia together with OFWs in distress. They were taken after a raid on their safehouse last Friday where they were conducting their weekly case dialog and providing advices to OFWs who ran away from their abusive employers.

We maintain that escaping from an abusive situation is not a crime and those who offer helpful advises to them on what they can do should not also be treated as criminals. To do so condones maltreatment, exploitation and injustice to migrant workers.

According to reports that reached our HK office, members of the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), the Riyadh chapter of Migrante, just met with about five OFWs who ran away from their employers in order to advise them on the best courses of action they can take for their problems. However, the police swooped down into the place of their meeting and arrested everyone.

Criminalization of those who abscond and thereby become undocumented migrants is already an unjust policy. Such becomes even more unjust and unreasonable when even those whose only purpose is to offer assistance that they can give are also charged with criminal acts. When has it become a crime to advise others who are in need?

Migrante-KGS since its establishment has been known even by Philippine officials in KSA to be responsive to the welfare needs of OFWs in distress. This reputation of Migrante-KGS has made them one of the first groups to be approached by OFWs who experience various kinds of problems with their employment.

Many times in the past, the group was even the first one to know of instances of abuses and pointed them out to the Philippine Embassy there in order for them to respond accordingly.

During this period of crisis, we anticipate even harsher actions against runaways and undocumented migrants. The support mechanism that the Filipino migrant’s community provides to those who will encounter problems shall be even more crucial to ensure that the rights of migrants are promoted and justice can be had for those who have been abused.

Instead of criminalizing victims and those who help them, the roots causes why there are numerous migrants are forced to run away must be addressed.

We call on the Philippine Embassy in KSA to immediately act for the release of all the KGS leaders and members. It must ensure that no further prosecution will be done against them and any other organization which provides immediate assistance to distressed OFWs before they are turned over to the Philippine authorities.

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
Address: No.2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. no.: (852) 2723-7536
Fax no.: (852) 2735-4559
General E-mail:

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"We dream of a society where families are not broken up by the urgent need for survival.
We dream and will actively work for a homeland where there is opportunity for everyone to live a decent and humane life." *********************************************************************************

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