By Martina Liebsch, Caritas Internationalis migration advocacy officer
Lucie Detsi wanted to study. She wanted a better life. She left Cameroon for Italy, where she worked for families as a domestic worker. This work wasn’t legally recognised and in some cases not even paid properly. Her rights as a worker and a migrant suffered. She had no way to ensure she was paid properly. She had no protection from possible abuses to her rights.
Lucie was one of the speakers at the Day of General Discussion of the Migrant Workers Committee in Geneva recently. The Committee on the protection of the Rights of all Migrant workers and members of their families is a UN body that seeks to safeguard migrant rights.
An initial document, which outlined the situation of domestic workers in different countries and the problems to be tackled, was followed by the opportunity to share real-life experiences, such as that of Lucie’s and good practices as those presented by Caritas Lebanon.
As a Caritas representative at the meeting, my suggestions to improve conditions for migrant workers ranged from ensuring safe and affordable recruitment to guaranteeing that children should not work as domestic workers.
There were representatives from different regions of the world who offered their input and we were able to formulate a list of recommendations together.
The outcomes of this meeting will be compiled into a report, which will be submitted to the ILO- International Labour Organization, which will present a draft convention on the rights of domestic workers at the International Labour Conference in June 2010.
Caritas supports a Convention for domestic workers which includes specific provisions for migrant domestic workers.