UN Agency Employs Blockchain to Protect Migrant Workers in Hong Kong From Illegal Fees
Blockchain is being deployed by the International Organization for Migration to curb the exploitation of domestic helpers in Hong Kong by unethical agencies who charge illegal fees.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM)—the United Nations Migration Agency—has announced the launch of a blockchain-based tool designed to prevent migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong from exploitation. The tool was developed in collaboration with Diginex, a blockchain technology company specializing in financial services.
On Dec. 16, in a release published on their page, Diginex announced the new tool called IRIS-SAFER, which is an acronym for the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS)- Self-Assessment for Ethical Recruitment (SAFER). It is being developed predominantly to be utilized by the approximately 1,500 Hong Kong-based migrant domestic worker recruitment agencies as well as select associated agencies in worker-sending countries.
Agencies will be assessed on their current level of adherence to global ethical recruitment principles as set forth by the IRIS Standard and will do so as a part of their participation in broader training on ethical recruitment.
According to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, there are almost 390,000 migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong, which is almost 10% of the working population. Almost all (98%) of these domestic workers are women. Alarmingly, a new survey indicates that more than half (56%) of domestic migrant workers were charged illegal fees by agencies.
Mr. Mark Blick, Head of Government Solutions at Diginex, said, “In Hong Kong, foreign domestic workers are some of the most economically vulnerable people in our society and pay approximately HK$700,000,000 each year in placement/recruitment fees. Being headquartered in Hong Kong, we believe it is vital to support the communities in which we operate, so this partnership and project is close to our hearts.”
The use of blockchain technology – essentially a set of immutable, secure, data records – will strengthen data management and enforce data integrity, which allows for a higher level of transparency and visibility.
Following the successful rollout of this tool in Hong Kong Diginex and IOM plan to roll out IRIS-SAFER to recruitment agencies in other jurisdictions globally.
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