Home / Day: December 13, 2010
November 5, 2010
IntLawGrrlsvoices on international law, policy, practice
The International Organization for Migration has released a report examining the gender dimensions of remittances. Drawing on several studies of gender differences in patterns of sending and receiving remittances, the report suggests strategies for helping women on both ends of the remittance chain to ensure that they and their families can maximize the benefits of these money flows. As the report recognizes, remittances are the second largest source of external funding for developing nations, and thus an important tool in poverty reduction and local development; understanding the gender dimensions of these flows is vital to achieving these goals.
The report lays out several interesting findings. While female and male migrants send approximately the same amount of remittances, women tend to send a higher proportion of their income and over longer periods of time. Women also send money more regularly, which means that they may be more significantly harmed by high transfer fees.
While male migrants largely send remittances to their spouse, female migrants send money to the person, often also female, who cares for their children. Women also tend to take more responsibility for money transfers to extended family members. Because of this sense of familial responsibility and due to traditional gender roles, female migrants may face particular pressure to remit much of their earnings. As a result, they may accept very challenging living and working conditions.
The constraint of gender roles from home may be compounded by a lack of legal status in the destination country. Women without lawful means of migration may have to rely on smugglers simply to enter that country. They may then be forced to spend much of their earnings repaying debt. Once they arrive, female migrants are often restricted to low-skilled jobs in domestic work, agriculture, hotel and catering, and sex work. Women in these fields face significant challenges, including low pay and withheld wages, which makes them even more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation — particularly if they are under pressure to remit. Women in these sectors also face barriers to formal remittance channels both because of a lack of lawful status and because they may be isolated in their workplace and accommodation. These challenges faced by female migrants are not new to readers of this blog, but it is important to note that they affect not only the human rights of these migrants but also the development goals of their home countries.
In the home country, women are often recipients of remittances. In some countries, women are empowered to manage these funds, while in others, male relatives control the use of remittances. In the latter case, women and children become more vulnerable to poverty and sexual abuse from their family and from the broader community. From a policy perspective, it is important to ensure that women are direct recipients of remittances in order to increase economic empowerment. Moreover, programs should focus on making investment options more accessible to female remittance recipients, who may have limited access to credit and financial literacy.
From the World Bank News and Broadcast* Remittances expected to surge by 20% in 2010, yielding an extra $360 million.* Haitians with “temporary protective status” in the United States are a main source of support.* Diaspora bonds proposed to assist in Haiti’s long-term development.
May 17, 2010 –Yolene Henry lost three cousins in Haiti’s devastating earthquake. Her niece was pulled from the rubble and needed medical treatment. Her mother, brother and his family were sleeping outside their damaged home in tents.
Henry responded like many others in the 1 million-plus Haitian diaspora: She increased the amount of money she sent to her relatives in Haiti.
“Now I also support extended family members and acquaintances who lost their property,” says the Washington, D.C. area resident.
Remittances are expected to surge 20% in 2010 in a country where they normally make up more than a quarter—and maybe half—of the national income, says World Bank economist and remittances expert Dilip Ratha.
While a rise in remittances has occurred after other disasters, Haiti represents the first time the restoration of remittances services was seen as a critical part of disaster relief and response, says Ratha.
Now, Ratha and others in the international community wonder how big a role the large and relatively wealthy Haitian diaspora in the United States, Canada, France and other countries will continue to play in Haiti’s recovery.
$360 Million Increase Expected
The expected 20% bump in remittances in 2010 will amount to an extra $360 million above normal remittances levels, according to World Bank’s Outlook for Remittance Flows 2010-11 (pdf). The diaspora officially sent $1.4 billion in remittances to Haiti in 2008, and unofficially may have sent as much as $2 billion.
Much of the increase this year will likely come from 200,000 undocumented workers granted “temporary protective status” to live and work legally in the United States for 18 months, says the report.
If the temporary protective status is extended another 18 months, additional flows to Haiti could exceed $1 billion over three years, the report adds.
“Financial help in the form of remittances from family members is always the first to arrive in times of distress,” says Ratha.
“When the systems and infrastructure are completely broken and institutions are not working because of the earthquake, at that time quick relief and relief that has impact has to be provided at an individual level, and remittances do that.”
‘People to People’ Assistance Helps Rebuild Lives
Such “people to people” assistance is increasingly recognized as an important factor in rebuilding lives and livelihoods after a disaster, partly because it is at the grassroots level, and it is given to individuals by people they know, says Saroj Kumar Jha, program manager of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery at the World Bank.
For instance, Dr. Magalie Emile, Chair of Board of Directors for the Association of Haitian Professionals in the United States, said she was inspired to help a small business owner while visiting relatives in Haiti in March.
“That’s just one option for the diaspora – to reach out to local merchants and local business owners and lend that support,’ she says. “It may be something as easy as buying a $200 computer to help someone sustain a business. But you’re not going to know this if you don’t travel home.”
Diaspora Bond Proposed
With an eye toward capturing that kind of support, Ratha, who works in the Bank’s research group, has proposed Haiti issue reconstruction diaspora bonds to tap the wealth of the diaspora.
This group would likely be more willing than typical foreign investors to lend money to Haiti at a cheap rate, thereby making socially relevant projects that offer a lower rate of return more affordable, he says.
In the past diaspora bonds have been used by Israel and India to raise over $35 billion in development financing. Several countries—including Ethiopia, Nepal, the Philippines, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka—are considering (or have issued) diaspora bonds recently to bridge financing gaps.
“Not only Haitians abroad, but also foreign individuals interested in helping Haiti, even charitable institutions, are likely to be interested in these bonds,” says Ratha.
Offering a reasonable interest rate—a 5% tax-free dollar interest rate, for example—could attract a large number of Haitian investors who are getting close to zero interest rate on their deposits. The bonds should also be implemented by a credible organization overseen by international agencies or observers, he adds.
Ratha says a diaspora bond sale could raise $200 million if 200,000 Haitians in the United States, Canada and France were to invest $1,000 each, and much higher amounts could be raised if bonds were open to friends of Haiti and guaranteed by multilateral or bilateral donors.
The idea has sparked interest in the international community, though some of the initial enthusiasm for it subsided as nations stepped forward to pledge billions of dollars for the reconstruction of Haiti, Ratha says.
Fifty countries pledged $5.3 billion for Haiti in the next three years, and as much as $9 billion in the next decade. But the country will need more than that in the long term, and diaspora assistance brings other benefits, such as reconnecting family and friends from afar, says Jha.
“I think the fundamental point about remittances managed through a diaspora bond will essentially be the people-to-people connection. It’s not a donor-beneficiary connection here. It’s more a connection between two individuals, two families, two people who share common cultural backgrounds, a common way of life, and a common identity.”
“I think if we try this for Haiti and it works, one could really then make diaspora bonds integral to any reconstruction effort in future.”
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
New Delhi, December 7, 2010
‘The Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games’ organised a public meeting and media consultation with the communities affected by the Commonwealth Games (CWG). The coalition also released a charter of demands to Members of Parliament, Members of the Legislative Assembly, and the media.
‘The Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games’ consists of a number of organisations, civil society groups, and social movements that have been working on the human rights impacts of the CWG. Although the members work in diverse areas and have opposed the Games for different reasons, they unanimously condemn the large-scale human rights violations in the city, the financial irregularities inherent in the CWG process, and the continued lack of redressal for the grievances of the poor and marginalised citizens of Delhi.
Members from affected communities spoke about a range of human rights violations that they have had to face due to the CWG. These include:* The forced eviction and displacement of approximately 250,000 people for the Games, including in the ‘beautification’, ‘cleaning’ and ‘security’ drives in Delhi.
* The arrests, detention and forced removal of ‘beggars’ and homeless citizens from Delhi for the duration of the Games. The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act 1959 was used to arrest and detain ‘beggars’ as well as gainfully employed homeless citizens. Several people were threatened to leave Delhi and forcefully sent back to their homes.
* The violation of the rights of construction workers, most of them migrants, who were denied adequate wages and safe working and living conditions. In many instances even children were made to work at the sites.
* The eviction of domestic workers, drivers, plumbers, and other informal sector workers and labour groups.
* The trafficking of women and young girls from other states for CWG visitors and participants.
* The loss of livelihoods for over 300,000 street vendors (according to the National Association of Street Vendors of India – NASVI). Cart-pullers, vegetable sellers, waste-pickers, balloon sellers, cobblers, street-food vendors and others were prevented from working on the streets, and thus denied their right to work and livelihood. Many of them were forced into starvation since they had no money to buy food. Eateries and weekly markets were also forcibly shut down. (Estimation from various sources put the figure at a daily income loss of Rs.10,70,00,000 (10 crore and 70 lakh rupees) for the above-mentioned groups)
* The diversion of Rs. 678.91 crore for Scheduled Castes in Delhi from the Special Component Plan to cover CWG-related costs. This was in violation of the 2006 Planning Commission Guidelines.
The socio-economic middle class of Delhi has also been affected by the Commonwealth Games. Apart from the inconveniences and restrictions imposed on them during the Games, they will also have to pay for the huge economic deficit of the Games for many years.
Dharam Halder from Bengali Camp highlighted the manner in which evictions had been carried out and stressed the fact that no compensation had been paid to them. “There is no one for us poor people. The government threw us out and the media has also abandoned us. We trust no one.” Sri Ram, who was displaced from Prabhu Market, Lodi Road, said, “Not only have we been robbed of our houses but attempts have been made to reduce our lives to nothingness. We are not allowed to sell vegetables and other wares on the road and face constant harassment from the police. How do we earn our living and feed our children?”
Sakkoo Bai, a woman from the Motia Khan shelter who had been evicted from the Rachna Golchakkar night shelter spoke about the suffering they faced due to the CWG. They were forced to stop working during the Games and had to rely on civil society support to survive. Mansur Khan from Beghar Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti highlighted the plight of homeless citizens, many of whom faced forceful expulsion from Delhi during the Games.
The Charter released by the Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games makes several demands, including calling on the government to oblige with its legal commitments and to ensure justice for the affected communities.
The concerned authorities need to urgently:* Ensure that the ongoing investigations by multiple agencies, including the Shunglu Committee, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement
* Directorate, the Central Vigilance Commission, and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, include human rights violations in their ambit;
* Provide just and adequate compensation for livelihoods and homes lost due to the Games;
* Provide adequate rehabilitation, including housing and basic services, for all displaced families;
* Improve living conditions in resettlement sites, according to international human rights standards;
* Provide a moratorium on the proposed eviction of 44 listed JJ clusters;
* Ensure payment of adequate wages and benefits to all construction workers;
* Formulate a comprehensive post-Games legacy plan based on principles of social justice, equity and environmental sustainability;
* Investigate all concerned public officials for the misappropriation of public funds and corruption charges;
* Return funds diverted from the Special Component Plan in a manner best suited to the community, as also reiterated by Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram in the Rajya Sabha; and,
* Ensure that guilty officials are prosecuted according to the law.
The following organisations are members of ‘The Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games’ and support the communities in their demands:Indo-Global Social Service Society Jhuggi Jhopdi Ekta Manch Hazards Centre Housing and Land Rights Network National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights Praxis
For more details, contact: Indu Prakash: 99113 62925, Dunu Roy: 9910687627 Dinesh: 8800731751, Mansur Khan: 92119 79454; Paul Divakar: 99100 46813; Shivani Chaudhry: 9818 205 234; Sowmyaa: 95606 59595
——————————————————————————————————————————————————-A CHARTER OF DEMANDS OF COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES
The Coalition against Exclusions and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games1 (CWG), presents this charter of demands on behalf of communities affected by the CWG.
India hosted the Commonwealth Games 2010 from 3rd to 14th October 2010 in New Delhi despite scathing criticism and embarrassing evidence of misappropriation of funds and human rights violations exposed by the media and researchers. What overshadows the ostensible successful accomplishment of hosting the mega sports event is arguably the issue of violation of citizenship and human rights and social justice that has been the direct consequence of the Commonwealth Games. In the name of security and in order to ‘beautify’ the city for the Games, thousands of citizens were denied their fundamental rights of freedom of movement, adequate housing, food, and of engaging in trade and occupations of their choice. Street vendors and rickshaw pullers were barred from carrying on their businesses, weekly markets were not permitted, roadside shops and jhuggis (slums/temporary shelters) were demolished, homeless citizens and beggars were arrested and forcefully removed from the city, and construction workers were denied wages and adequate living conditions and forcefully sent back home. The significant issue that emerges is that these rights were selectively denied to certain sections of society.
Members of the Coalition against Exclusions and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games work closely with several of the above-mentioned groups and present below a charter of demands, which emerged from discussions with them.
1. Immediate and Just Compensation to: a. Construction workers on all CWG sites; b. Rehabilitation and adequate compensation to slum dwellers who were evicted during the Commonwealth Games, and moratorium on eviction of the 44 listed JJ clusters; c. Daily wage labourers, homeless citizens, ‘beggars’, and other informal sector workers who were not permitted to carry out business in the run-up to as well as during the CWG.
2. A clear legacy plan for the CWG, which explains how the well-being of the citizens will be ensured, how the infrastructure created for the Games will be equitably used, and how benefits will be distributed to disadvantaged and marginalised groups.
3. Immediate return of Rs. 678.91 crore diverted from the Special Component Plan (Scheduled Caste Sub Plan) for the purpose of Commonwealth Games by the end of the financial year 2010-11. a. SCP fund should be kept aside before allocating to the line departments / ministries. b. Entire SCP fund should be spent on programmes directly benefiting individuals, families and hamlets. Programmes related to education and employment should be focused on individuals and families, and civic amenities related programmes should be focused on hamlets.
4. All investigation agencies must include human rights violations in the ambit of their enquiry. The investigations should also probe all relevant senior government officials.
5. The perpetrators of these crimes must be identified and suitable action must be taken against the guilty, in accordance with the law.
1 The Coalition comprises representatives and partners of Housing and Land Rights Network, Indo Global Social Service Society, Jhuggi Jhopadi Ekta Manch, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, Hazards Centre and Praxis (as secretariat of Social Equity Watch)
To link to this article and get a PDF of the Charter of Demands, visit the South Asia Citizens Web athttp://www.sacw.net/spip.php?page=imprimer&id_article=1732
From MSN news:
New Delhi, Dec 7 (PTI) A coalition of civil society groups today demanded “justice” for victims of alleged large- scale human rights violations” of rickshaw pullers, street vendors and pavement dwellers during the Commonwealth Games.
The demands include immediate compensation to construction workers who had worked at the Games venues and daily wage earners who were not allowed to do business during the time as well as rehabilitation of those evicted from their homes.
The ”Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games” by Social Equity Watch has released a community charter to counter “continued lack of redressal” of the grievances of the marginalised arising out of the preparations for the mega-event.
“Corruption is one major aspect, but alongwith corruption accountability of the government to the welfare of the people which has been violated…,” Paul Divakar of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) said on the charter”s purpose.
The return of Rs 678.91 crore diverted from the Special Component Plan (Scheduled Caste Sub Plan) for CWG by the government by end of this year has also been demanded.
A third demand is the probe of human rights violations in inquiries being conducted into the Games by investigating agencies.
Narrating his experience during the its release, Bhuvan Das, a hawker who resided in Bengali camp, claimed families in the area were given only an hour”s notice before the demolition of the clusters began as part of preparations.
Sri Ram, who was displaced from Prabhu Market near Lodhi Road, alleged “harassment” by the police and claimed he still has not got permission to start selling his wares as a street vendor there. “Nobody”s listening to us,” he claimed.
The 19th Commonwealth Games were held in the national capital from October 3 to 14.
Press Trust Of IndiaNew Delhi, November 26, 2010
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), probing alleged financial bungling in the Commonwealth Games-related projects, has referred certain cases to the Enforcement Directorate to check whether there was violation of foreign exchange laws. Official sources said that projects like construction of Commonwealth Games Village near Akshardham temple and flyovers, hiring and procurement of medical and fitness equipment and conduct of outdoor publicity campaign by the Organising Committee may come under the ED scanner.
They said a decision to hand over cases to ED for a “logical conclusion” was taken recently during a meeting Central Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas had with senior officials.
Sources said the Chief Technical Examination (CTE) wing of the Commission, which has scrutinised all the documents related to bidding and grant of tender worth crore of rupees to various firms, has found substantive evidence that these private companies might have routed money through illegal means and bypassing laws.
They said the Chief Vigilance Officers (CVOs) of government agencies like Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Public Works Department (PWD) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) have been specifically directed to pursue all matters related to violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) with the ED.
A CVC team has seized documents from the Games OC office here to avoid any tampering of evidence. “There has been some cases where the Commission has noticed alleged violations of forex laws.
We will be giving those cases to ED for interrogation and report,”a CVC official said requesting anonymity. Sources in the anti-corruption watchdog said that the officials working in its “special cell” – exclusively made to deal with cases of Games corruption – will meet ED officials early next month in this regard.
Press Trust Of India / New Delhi/ Chandigarh November 19, 2010, 0:42 IST===========================The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab today said it will launch a ‘mass awareness campaign’ to mobilise people against what the party termed as unprecedented scams involving the bigwigs of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre.
A resolution to this effect was passed at the party’s Core Committee meeting here, a SAD spokesman said here today.
Describing the 2-G spectrum scam allegedly involving the UPA big shots as “mother of all scams” the committee said its magnitude along with that of Commonwealth Games and Adarsh Housing Society scandals had shocked the world and lowered the country’s image abroad.
The movement would also aim to educate masses on the conspiracy of the rich corporate world to defame the pro-poor and social welfare policies of the Punjab government in order to perpetuate their exploitation of the poor, the spokesman said.
The Core Committee lashed out at the opponents of pro-poor policies of the Punjab government, especially those aimed at providing help and relief to the deprived sections of society through the desperately needed subsidies.
“Those opposing the subsidies are backed by the rich tycoons of the corporate world who wanted to exploit the poor masses and swell their coffers through unethical means. The party is proud of the SAD-BJP government’s clear and firm stance on subsidies,” said the resolution.
A resolution passed at two-and-half-hour meeting of the Core Committee declared that the party would “fully expose the Centre resorting to hypocritical means to confuse the people on the issue of debt-waiver to Punjab.”
“The Centre is still refusing to categorically state whether an offer to waive Rs 35000 crore out of the total debt was ever made to Punjab but was instead resorting diversionary replies,” the resolution said.
The committee fully endorsed the continuance of subsidies being given by the Punjab government to farmers, pensioners, dalits and other poor and deprived segments of society in rural and urban areas.
BS Reporter / New Delhi November 18, 2010, 0:50 IST==========================================The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will continue with its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on the corruption in the telecom and other scams. It has now demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clear his stand on the issue.
Senior members of the party confirmed that they had not heard anything from the government on their demand for setting up JPC on corruption surrounding 2G spectrum allocation, Adarsh society scandal and Commonwealth Games scam.
BJP alleged that PM Manmohan Singh was guilty of a “conspiracy of silence” and he should at least make his stand clear on the floor of the house. The BJP also questioned the role of Congress Party and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, while attacking the government on issues of corruptions.
“We were expecting a reply from the government on our demand but we have not received any till now,” said a senior BJP leader.
Taking the attack on the government a little further, BJP said an investigation by parliamentarians would not only help in eradicating corruption but also reform the system.
“JPC is needed to eradicate corruption, better administration and also to reform the system. The government is so far stonewalling any investigation by parliamentarians on the issue. We want to know why telecom minister A Raja resigned. There are more people involved in the 2G spectrum allocation scam and not just Raja. A JPC probe is also needed for better understanding of legislatures,” said Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP spokesperson.
“The Congress Party and UPA leader Sonia Gandhi also have a lot to explain,” Sitharaman added.
Sitharaman also said it was not only the Opposition parties who were asking for a JPC on the issue of corruption surrounding 2G spectrum, Adarsh Society and corruption in the Commonwealth Games but for the first time the Supreme Court has also asked PM to clear his stand.
“If we do not demand for a JPC on these issues, then we would not be fulfilling our responsibility as an opposition party. The government has so far not taken us into confidence and hasn’t discussed any issues with the opposition parties,” added Sitharaman.