There are few policies governing migration
The cross-border movement of labour in Cambodia has taken place for many years in the absence of any concrete migration policy. Sub-decree 57 on the Sending of Khmer Workers to Work Abroad, dated 20 July 1995, is the only primary law regulating labour migration from Cambodia. Aiming at formalising the process of cross-border labour emigration, the sub-decree gave the then Ministry of Social Affairs, Labour, vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation6 the competence to permit any company wishing to send Khmer labourers to work overseas through a ministerial order known as “Prakas".
It was not until 2010 that the first policy on labour migration for Cambodia was formulated (MOLVT, 2010) in response to the complications and dynamics of migration issues. The policy, which was prepared through a series of consultative discussions involving the relevant government agencies, workers’ and employers’ organisations, international agencies, non-government and civil society organisations, covers only emigrants abroad and focuses on three strategic areas: (1) improved governance of labour migration; (2) protection and empowerment of migrant workers; and (3) harnessing the potential of labour migration for Cambodia’s economic development. Key measures proposed in the policy are:
- • to formulate a comprehensive legal and institutional framework governing labour migration
- • to mainstream the labour migration agenda within the national development agenda
- • to review the effectiveness and costs of the legal labour-migration process
- • to disseminate information regarding the labour migration process
- • to enter into bilateral co-operation with other major labour-receiving countries to create a wider and more diversified foreign labour market for Cambodian migrant workers; and to negotiate a standard employment contract with labourreceiving countries
- • to extend protection of migrant workers by posting labour attaches in major destination countries
- • to establish a welfare fund or special insurance scheme for migrant workers to cope with contingencies
- • to promote access to financial services by migrant workers and their families and to support the productive investment /use of remittances
- • to set up systems for registration, reintegration, and skills accreditation for returning migrant workers.
Assessment of the implementation of this specific policy shows that Cambodia has made slow progress in migration management. Of the 79 activities listed in the policy, 21.5% are assessed as being on target, 34% are progressing, and 44.5% are not on target (MOLvT, 2014). Of the activities that are on target and progressing, most are undertaken with the support of donor partners and NGOs. The activities concerning harnessing labour migration for development are much further behind, with around 62% of the activities identified as not on target. uneven policy implementation is in part due to a lack of ownership of the policy outside MOLvT, and the lack of an oversight body for monitoring and evaluation.
The second policy on labour migration for Cambodia was launched in December 2014. The overall policy objective is to protect and empower migrant workers through the complete migration cycle, ensuring that migration is a positive and profitable experience for individual workers, their families and communities. As in the previous policy, the strategic targets are on governance, protection and migration for development. To harness labour migration for development, the policy contains the following action plans:
- • mainstream migration into the national social and economic development plan and strategies
- • promote the effective use of the diaspora’s resources (skills, and financial) for community development
- • facilitate the efficient flow of worker remittances, encourage access to financial services by migrant workers, and promote the productive use of remittances for local economic development
- • increase work with financial institutions to scale up remittance facilities to communes with a high migration rate and reduce the cost of remittance transfers
- • provide information to migrant workers and their families regarding the management of their finances, including remittances, through standardised pre-departure training
- • assist in linking migrant worker families with financial institutions to obtain loans for starting up local businesses
- • promote the development of village development funds or village savings groups
- • support entrepreneur training for migrant workers and their family members
- • establish a skills recognition system to maximise the talents and skills acquired by returned migrant workers
- • strengthen employment services in counselling, skill-matching, and job placement for returned migrant workers
- • support local investment programmes, provide small-business counselling, and set up financing facilities for returned migrant workers.