Asia Rights

Journal of Human Rights, Media and Society in Asia and the Pacific


There are currently over one million foreigners living in South Korea. Many of these are immigrant labourers working in so-called 3D jobs – dangerous, dirty and demeaning. A number of NGOs and trade union groups have emerged in South Korea to defend and support the interests of these immigrant labourers and to aid them in gaining access to information and representation.

On the 3 March 2011, Amnesty International¬† reported on the withdrawal of a South Korean visa from a Filipino migrant worker and President of the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants’ Trade Union (MTU) Michel Catuira. Extracts from the AI report follow:

‘As President of the MTU, Catuira has been instrumental in advocating for the respect, protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers in South Korea. He has spoken out against restrictions placed on migrant workers’ freedom to change workplaces and against immigration raids, which have resulted in arbitrary arrests, collective expulsions and the excessive use of force.

Since the MTU was founded in 2005, the immigration authorities have arrested six of its senior officials, five of whom were forcibly deported. Two of those deported were MTU Presidents. No MTU President has been able to serve a full term.’

‘Michel Catuira has been working as a documented migrant worker in South Korea since February 2006. He was elected President of the MTU in July 2009. ‘

Full details of the report and suggested action can be found here


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