Established in 1991, the Asian Migrant Centre (AMC) is a regional NGO based in Hong Kong. AMC carries out action oriented research on migration issues, policy and media advocacy, and capacity building for organisations working to empower, protect and promote the rights of migrants in Asia.
Since 2002, AMC enjoyes a Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.
AMC shares a common vision with migrants and advocates for the building of humane, just, pluralistic, and democratic societies founded on the principles of human rights, social justice, gender equality and equity, non-discrimination, sustainability, and inclusive participation. It advocates that the development of societies should always be premised on upholding human dignity, strengthening families and communities, and promoting each person’s full potential.
AMC’s goal is to promote the human rights, dignity and empowerment of migrant workers and their families in Asia, to build their capacities to assert and defend their rights and interests, and become partners in sustainable, just and gender-fair social development.
To further this aim, AMC has implemented a number of programs with the objectives of promoting migrants’ human rights and capacity building, strategies to help realize migrants’ economic and social empowerment, and research to monitor the current situation of migrants in Asia.
Priority (Target) Groups
“Migrant workers” primarily served by AMC are cross-border migrants and their families in Asia. This includes both documented and undocumented migrant workers, whether they are in the pre-migration, onsite, or return stage of the migration process.
AMC gives specific attention to migrant workers who are marginalized, vulnerable and oppressed, including migrant workers in informal sectors whose work is not protected by national labour laws, migrants in labour intensive sectors and service sectors, and undocumented migrant workers. AMC notes that the oppression, marginalization and vulnerability of migrant workers is intensified by the convergence of gender, class and race/ethnicity factors. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, international declarations and major international human rights instruments reinforce the rights of these vulnerable migrants and the obligations of member states.
AMC’s capacity building, training, organizing and networking programmes primarily caters to organisations of these migrant workers and advocacy groups/NGOs supporting them.
During the 1990s, AMC played a major role in establishing migrant grassroots organisations in Hong Kong including the Asian Domestic Workers Union (ADWU), Filipino Migrant Workers Union (FMWU), Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (IMWU), Thai Women Association (TWA), Thai Migrant Workers Union (TMWU), Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU), Coalition of Migrants’ Rights (CMR) and KOTKIHO (The Hong Kong Coalition of Indonesian Migrant Workers Organisations). It also initiated the Asian Migrant Credit Union (AMCU) as a way to promote the economic empowerment of migrant workers. At the regional level, AMC was one of the founding members of the Migrant Forum of Asia (MFA) and has played a key role in developing the network as a member of the MFA’s executive committee from its founding in 1994 until 2013. From mid-1990s to 2010 AMC spearheaded developing an economic empowerment model called “Migrant Savings and Alternative Investments for Community Development and Reintegration (MSAI for CDR) in partnership with the Unlad Kabayan in the Philippines and other project partners in the region. The MSAI for CDR aimed to empower migrant communities and enable migrants to reintegrate with his/her home community when wishing to return home, by providing them skills and support to create sustainable livelihood opportunities in their hometowns by mobilizing the resources and capacities of migrant workers.
In 2001, AMC was the initiator in establishing the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) [http://www.mekongmigration.org] by bringing together over 20 project partners to carry out collaborative research to map out migration policies, issues and responses in the Mekong subregion. When MMN was formally launched in 2003 as a sub-regional network of NGOs and research institutes promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers and their families in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, MMN members asked AMC to host the MMN Secretariat. MMN presently has more than 40 member organisations and carries out a number of dynamic projects. As a strategic partner, AMC continues to host the MMN Secretariat and implement projects in close collaboration with MMN.
Strategies & Roles
To achieve our central goal, AMC prioritises the following strategies:
Carry out action oriented research on migration issues;
Provide training and organisaitonal development support to organisations working to promote and protect migrants’ rights;
Monitor migration policies and issues in Asia;
Facilitate joint analysis and action on key issues in order to strengthen the work and advocacies of the partner organisations for the promotion of the human rights, empowerment and agendas of migrant workers and their families in Asia
Organize high-level multi-stakeholder conferences to bring in various stakeholders to discuss key migration issues;
Provide critical policy and issue analysis on migration issues in Asia; and
Carry out policy advocacy to promote policies that support migrant empowerment and reduce discrimination, exploitation and the criminalization of migrants and migration.
Since 1990s, AMC has produced publications covering various migration issues. The following provides highlights of these publications, although is not an exhaustive list.
Resource Book on Migration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region
In September 2001, the Asian Migrant Centre and more than 20 regional and national research partners in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) initiated a collaborative action research project entitled “Migration in the Mekong”. This phase of the research focused on mapping migration issues, needs and responses in the GMS. The first resource book on migration in the GMS was published in 2002 as an outcome publication of that project. The project led to formal launching of the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) in 2003. AMC and MMN continued to carry out collaborative research projects and produced a number of publications, including the Resource Book on Migration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region series listed below.
Migration Needs, Issues and Responses in the Greater Mekong Sub-region: A Resource Book
Following the collaborative research project described above, the first resource book on migration in the GMS was published in 2002 as an outcome publication of that project.
Resource Book: Migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion
This second volume of the resource book, covers information and analysis on migration issues in the GMS, updated from the first version, as well as the findings of the in-depth study conducted by the MMN in 2004-2005 on the quality of life of migrants both in destination countries and countries of origin.
Migration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region; In-depth Study: Arrest, Detention and Deportation
AMC in collaboration with MMN published an in-depth study on arrest, detention and deportation of migrants in the Mekong subregion in June 2008. Since publishing the study, AMC and MMN have continued to advocate for the reform of policies so that situations where migrants end up being arrested, detained and deported are avoided, as well as to ensure that migrants receive humanitarian treatment where arrest, detention and deportation are unavoidable. While the executive summary of the book was immediately translated into Burmese, Chinese, Lao, Khmer, Thai and Vietnamese, the MMN felt that it was particularly important to publish the whole book in Thai, as there were pressing advocacy needs on the issue in Thailand. In June 2011, the Thai version of the resource book was launched. We hope that the book will help inform policy makers, civil society, researchers and the general public in Thailand on the pressing needs concerning arrest, detention and deportation of migrants in the Mekong.
Published 2008. PDF available here.
Migration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region; In-depth Study: Border Economic Zones and Migration
The fourth edition of the Resource Book series includes updates on migration issues, policy and regulations, and responses at national and regional levels during 2009 to 2012; as well as an in-depth study on border economic zones (BEZs) and migration. The establishment of BEZs is one strategy that has been employed in an attempt to formalise and expand border trade in Ayewaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) countries. These countries envisioned that increased investment in these zones would lead to the creation of additional jobs and a subsequent decrease in the number of workers from poorer countries migrating to find work. This publication explores the impact that BEZs are having on migration and the lives of migrants.
Published 2012. PDF available here.
Annotated Bibliography on Migration in the Greater Mekonb Sub-region
From 2002 to 2010, AMC in collaboration with MMN published series of annotated bibliography as a companion publication of the resource book on migration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The bibliography served as a guide to the information currently available on the issue and also highlighted some of the research gaps that currently exist. After publishing the 3rd edition of the Annotated Bibliography in 2009, AMC and MMN opted for updating through online. The online-interactive version is accessible from http://www.mekongmigration.org/bibliography/.
Climate Change and Migration: Exploring the Impacts of Climate Change on People’s Livelihoods and Migration in the Greater Mekong Sub-region
This publication is the outcome of a research project carried out together with the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, aimed at contributing to a greater understanding of climate change in the GMS. Primary research carried out in two case study communities, Ma Gyi Chay Htaut Village, Magway Region, in Myanmar’s central ‘Dry Zone’ and Thanh An Commune, Vinh Thanh District, Can Tho City, in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam indicates that environmental changes are being felt by communities, and these changes are negatively impacting people’s lives and influencing migration.
Published 2013. PDF available here.
Restricted Rights: Migrant Workers in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia
Restricted Rights is a report commissioned by UK-based NGO War on Want, and presents the findings from a series of in-depth interviews with migrant women employed in the garment and electronic industry supply chains in three ASEAN countries. Research was carried out by the Asian Migrant Centre, in collaboration with the MAP Foundation, Thailand, Legal Support for Children and Women, Cambodia, Workers’ Hub for Change, Malaysia, Burma Campaign - Malaysia and the Mekong Migration Network. The research reveals a common tale of precarious lives lived out in the face of state oppression and exploitation by negligent companies and greedy employers. It uncovers how Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia have reaped huge economic benefits off the back of migrant labour. Yet the same countries continue to refuse migrant workers the rights and security that are their due. Also included in this study are interviews with grassroots organizations that have been working tirelessly to facilitate migrants’ access to justice and promote their rights in the workplace and wider society. Published 2012. PDF available here.
From Our Eyes: Mekong Migrant Reflection 2000 – 2012
From Our Eyes is a collection of diverse personal stories, insight and analysis from 15 migrants, on their lives over the past 12 years. The book was published in August 2012, in collaboration with MMN, and includes experiences of migrants from various Mekong countries, and industries including fisheries, sex work, factories, construction, mining and domestic work. Important perspectives are conveyed on the practical impact of migrant- related policies, with the hope of countering a general lack of recognition of migrant voices in the public forums. A migrant leader from the Worker Solidarity Association (WSA) highlights the importance of recognizing migrant voices, opinions and analysis:
“The policies and regulations relating to migrant workers have made our lives sometimes sweet, sometime bitter. We would like to suggest that governments create policies that solve real problems and create public benefits, and do not ruin the lives of migrants. As we migrant speak out through this publication, we hope that the relevant authorities will hear us and reflect our opinions in their policy making.”
Published 2012. PDF available here.
Underpayment: Systematic Extortion of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong
This is a report of an in-depth study of Indonesian labour migration in Hong Kong. The research was carried out by the Asian Migrant Centre, in collaboration with Indonesian Migrant Workers Union, KOTKIHO, FOBMI, Jarnas Pekabumi, Migrant CARE, KOPBUMI and SPM, and was supported by Oxfam-Hong Kong. It was one of the very first in-depth studies exploring the extortion and exploitation faced by Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong, covering issues at the pre-departure, on site and upon return stages. The study highlighted the multiple vulnerabilities of Indonesian migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong. It found, among other things, that 42% of Indonesian migrant domestic workers in Hong kong were underpaid.
Published in 2005. PDF available here.
Underpayment 2: The Continuing Systematic Extortion of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong: In-Depth Study
This report is a follow to the 2005 study described above and a new survey was carried out in Hong Kong in 2006 to 2007. This phase of the research was carried out by the Asian Migrant Centre, in collaboration with Indonesian Migrant Workers Union and KOTKIHO, was supported by International Labour Organisation (ILO)-Indonesia and Oxfam-Hong Kong.
Published in 2007. PDF available here.
Asian Migrant Yearbook (AMY)
In 1998, AMC published the first edition namely Asian Migrant Yearbook 1998: Migration Facts, Analaysia and Issues in 1998. The subsequent editions AMY 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002-3, 2004 and 2005 were published in collaboration with Migrant Forum in Asia. Packed with colorful photos, tables and statistics, the AMY was well received by migrant rights advocates, researchers and others who were interested in migration issues as a good source of information. AMY included the twenty country reports in Asia. Amongst other things, each country report includes key statistics, the overview of the situation of migrant workers in that country, NGO initiatives, government responses to the current situation, and issues related to migration.
Most of the publications published after 2003 are downloadable from the AMC’s publication section: http://www.asianmigrantcentre.org/#!publications/c1prv. For older publication, please send an inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.