Migrant law fuels exploitation fears

Migrant law fuels exploitation fears

Legal experts are in disagreement about the potential benefits of a new legislative amendment allowing migrants without residence permits to be hired to work on farms as day laborers without full social insurance.

The amendment was passed into law last week. This was just a few days after the 35 migrants who were injured three years ago when their foremen opened fire on them in Manolada, in the Peloponnese, renewed their residence permits.

Although legal experts at the Agricultural Development Ministry believe the new regulation boosts the rights of undocumented immigrants, other lawyers claim it could perpetuate exploitation by farm employers.

“It is presented as a bold reform but it is quite likely to create more problems than it solves,” according to Vassilis Kerasiotis, a member of the legal service of the Greek Council for Refugees and a lawyer for some of the Manolada migrants who have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights about their treatment.

Kerasiotis said the amendment provides migrants with a type of work permit which, however, they will lose if they are forced to leave their employer due to ill-treatment or nonpayment, for instance.

He said migrants should be granted work permits that are not linked to the employer, noting that the new system could lead to the further exploitation of migrants who may be scared to leave abusive employers due to fear of losing their permit.

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