As a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, CIMS conducts both independent research activities and various research projects with the financial support of various agencies. Primarily, CIMS produces newspaper reports and research papers based on the rich data of cases received containing socio-economic profile and other details of the migrants. The recent research projects with external funding are:
CIMS actively advocated among the Indian parliamentarians by providing awareness about the importance of adopting the GCM objectives. CIMS understood the need to pressurize and educate our Parliamentarians who could initiate a discussion in the assembly. The CIMS’s delegation consequently visited and submitted the memo on GCM demands to Members of Indian Parliament Shashi Tharoor, M B Rajesh, K.K Ragesh and A. Sampath. By following the footsteps of CIMS, other Indian CSOs also met parliamentarians in the respective states.
Upon the inception of eMigrate system and MADAD, the grievance redressal website begun under the Ministry of External affairs, CIMS started following the development keenly. We register all cases that approach us. Within 8 months, CIMS had sought solutions to about 50 cases of exploitation of vulnerable female domestic workers (see the appendix). The eMigrate as the sole provider of the emigration clearance and visa, created legal hassles for those looking to recruit domestic workers, despite being lauded for ensuring transparency and accountability within the government. This is seen as inconvenient for potential employers, and they resort to paying recruiting agents up to 2 lakh rupees to procure a domestic worker. The concerned agent then traffics these women into the country where they are bought as slaves, deprived of their salary since they were ‘bought’. They are often overworked and subjected to horrific physical and mental abuse by the hands of their employers. CIMS identified certain matters of grave concern after our eight-month inquiry and used Pravasalokam to publicise the severity of the trafficking as well.
When CIMS pointed out these aspects, the response from many embassies were startling - since most employees arrived without registering on the e-Migrate website, there were limits to which they could/would deal with these cases. Despite the official stance of the State government and embassies, Pravasalokam has been able to assist 15 domestic workers with the co-operation of social and charitable organisations in Saudi Arabia. Finally, CIMS wrote to the Protector General of Emigrants in India, MC Luther. After missing cases came to light, MC Luther tweeted openly on his official Twitter handle advising women not to travel on tourist visas. In 2016, only 520,960 Indians have migrated to ECR countries through emigrate. Even though the response was not the expected one, CIMS efforts has managed to send signals to the policy-makers about the issues within new recruitment system. Without acknowledging CIMS, the government took certain steps including the removal of 500 USD security deposit for employing a domestic worker in ECR countries and assigned the recruitment of domestic workers and nurses to six state-run agencies.
Special episode on domestic workers trafficking
Only two state-run agencies from Kerala are entitled to conduct recruitment of domestic workers. They are NORKA-Roots and ODEPC. CIMS constantly advocates for initiating domestic workers recruitment from these agencies. As a result, both agencies, especially NORKA-Roots had started the recruitment to Kuwait via a quasi-government agency Al- Durah.
CIMS conducted several meetings with the policy makers in the state to develop sustainable reintegration schemes. In order to expand the existing policies, a proposed visit to Philippines with the support of ILO and MFA is on the pipeline. In order to support the advocacy of civil society in other states for better reintegration programs, CIMS facilitated a visit of civil society representatives from Telangana in April, 2020. The visit consisted of meetings and interactions with government representatives and civil society in Kerala.
CIMS actively involved in the preparation of the Zero draft of Global Compact for Migration document as a civil society representative. Among the consultations with stakeholders, Global Compact for Migration (GCM) Thematic Consultation and Multi-Stakeholder Hearing held on 11-13 October 2017 in Geneva Switzerland was a milestone in the advocacy life of CIMS. CIMS director Rafeek Ravuther represented civil society from the Asian region in the meeting and spoke about the need for improvement of the GCM working draft. This consultation was the last of the thematic consultations of the GCM with the theme: "Irregular migration and regular pathways, including decent work, labour mobility, recognition of skills and qualifications and other relevant measures". It can be considered as the highest recognition given for the sound work done by CIMS for the last 20 years by both MFA and UN.