Labour migration from Tajikistan has grown rapidly in recent years with an estimated 600,000 workers having left, mostly for seasonal work in the Russian Federation and other countries. Although the majority of these migrants leave through their own informal networks, a range of intermediaries that provide services to migrants in search of employment abroad have emerged. Some of them are legally registered Private Employment Agencies (PrEAs), others operate on a semi-legal or illegal basis.
This study is the first in-depth analysis of the normative framework regulating PrEAs in Tajikistan. It also describes practical experiences of the industry including various abusive practices that require the attention of law makers. It is the result of a collaborative effort between the International Labour Office (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) whose specific mandates and roles have helped to strengthen policy dialogue with the Government of Tajikistan, in particular with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the Migration Service and with social partners. The research was funded by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and the European Union. A draft of the report was discussed at a round table in Dushanbe in May 2008 and its recommendations incorporated in the final chapter of this report.
The ILO acknowledges the positive role that PrEAs can play in the functioning of national and international labour markets. With the adoption of the ILO Convention on Private Employment Agencies (No. 181) in 1997, important international standards were set for the regulation of these agencies in order to protect the rights of workers and to prevent exploitative practices. In addition, ILO Conventions on Migrant Workers (No. 97 and No. 143), both ratified by the Republic of Tajikistan, provide guidance on the recruitment of migrant workers. In 2007, the ILO published a Guide to Private Employment Agencies: Regulation, Monitoring and Enforcement that explains Convention No. 181, highlights good practice examples and stresses the importance of linking comprehensive legislation to effective enforcement mechanisms.
IOM attaches great importance to this research designed to contribute to the development of external labour migration policy and practice at national level and globally. Its main objective is to enrich policy debates through research, innovative operational approaches and activities in order to facilitate safe migration. Where legal migration channels are restricted, labour migrants largely depend on illegitimate recruiters or their own social networks. The challenge for government agencies is therefore to promote legal migration inter alia through creating a legal base for PrEA operations and to regulate the market for PrEAs in order to protect labour migrants from abuses as well as to curb unfair competition in the recruitment process. A regulatory framework should be based on international norms and good practice and should take into account the particularities of the recruitment industry, the types of services provided and the challenges faced by PrEAs in the country.
As this study indicates, Tajik legislation already contains basic parameters for the regulation of PrEAs, and yet the industry struggles against unfair competition from informal or illegal intermediaries. Tajik enforcement authorities have also prosecuted cases of illegal and abusive recruitment but more needs to be done in this respect.
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The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice through setting international labour standards.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a United Nations agency that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers.