The Philippines bans its workers from 41 countries; Australian PM responds to asylum seeker tragedy

Updated On: Nov 03, 2011

The Philippine government announced on Wednesday that it was banning citizens from working in 41 countries that it alleges fail to provide enough protection to protect them from abuse.

Countries on the list were those that had either failed to sign international conventions that protect foreign workers, those do not have a bilateral agreement with the Philippines which agrees to safeguard them, or adequate domestic laws.

Although the Philippines is one of the world's largest labour exporters, the 41 countries do not receive a large percentage of Filipino workers so the country's overall foreign labour force, including remittances will not be adversely affected.

The ban will also not affect Filipino workers who are already in those countries so they will not have to come home until their contracts expire, Carlos Cao, head of the government's overseas employment agency said.

However, the government is considering extending the ban to several Middle Eastern countries, where complaints of abuse and mistreatment are most common and where more than 1 million Filipinos reside, which could have more longlasting effects.

The country blacklisting follows a temporary ban imposed by Cambodia last month on domestic workers being sent to Malaysia.

Domestic workers, labourers and seaman are most vulnerable to exploitation in third countries, where laws are either underdeveloped or inadequately enforced.

Report: Philippine workers banned from 41 countries (AFP, 3 November 2011)

Report: Blacklisted: the countries where Filipino servants are facing abuse (The Independent, 3 November 2011)

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has expressed her deep sadness after a boat carrying asylum seekers capsized in Indonesian waters on the weekend, leaving 8 dead and 30 missing.

Following the tragedy, she reiterated her desire to continue pushing for legislation which would allow for a asylum seeker swap between Malaysia and Australia. The plan was shelved last month when it became clear it did not have the support of parliament and was met with international outcry by rights groups concerned with the treatment of those swapped in Malaysia, which has not signed up to an international convention to protect refugees and asylum seekers.

Despite this, Gillard told reporters that "the position of the government is that we want to implement the arrangement with Malaysia" in Cannes, France on Thursday as she prepared to attend the G20 Summit.

Report: Aussie PM committed to deterring asylum seekers (AP, 3 November 2011)

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