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CHR to DMW: Probe 'alarming' reports of distressed OFWs seeking refuge in shelters

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has asked the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to investigate reports of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) seeking refuge in shelters abroad.

The CHR issued the remark after the “brutal killing” of 35-year-old OFW Julleebee Ranara, whose body was found burned in the middle of the desert in Kuwait and was reportedly raped and impregnated by the suspect, the 17-year-old son of her employer.

The CHR said it joined the DMW in monitoring the progress of the case. It also called for the swift dispensation of justice against the suspect.

The CHR also once again urged the national government to “reflect and adopt the necessary reforms to strengthen and uphold the rights of migrant workers, especially those working as domestic workers,” following the death of seven OFWs in Kuwait in 2018.

“CHR stresses that one death is too many. We note similar alarming reports of distressed OFWs in huge numbers seeking refuge in shelters and are awaiting repatriation. We ask DMW to investigate this matter with equally great urgency,” the commission said in a statement.

“It is clear that full implementation of employment standards — including safe working conditions, timely remuneration, and protection from maltreatment—in line with migrants’ human rights, must be demanded by the Philippines from foreign employers and other States,” it added.

GMA News Online sought comment from the DMW but has yet to respond as of this posting.

Meanwhile, the commission said it will continue to coordinate with other national human rights institutions (NHRI) in providing immediate legal or financial assistance to OFWs in need of access to justice and remedies.

It added that the CHR’s E-Lawyering program remains open to migrants and their families for response and referral to appropriate agencies for proper action.

DMW spokesperson Toby Nebrida earlier said they are coordinating with Kuwaiti authorities and police to bring home the remains of Ranara.

Nebrida said they also receive reports from OFWs in Kuwait regarding cases of abuse and maltreatment. He then highlighted the importance of revisiting the current bilateral labor arrangements between the Philippines and Kuwait.  —Richa Noriega/KBK, GMA Integrated News