Nine Asean countries have agreed to draft an instrument as part of the framework’s principles that states they are all duty bound to promote the protection of migrant workers, Deputy Labour Ministry permanent secretary ML Puntarik Smiti said yesterday.

Puntarik said the move would help prevent human trafficking in member countries.

She said all Asean members, except Vietnam, recently dispatched representatives to a meeting in Chiang Mai to discuss the instrument for action and implementation so it complied with the Asean Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of Migrant Workers,

The declaration was signed on January 13, 2007 in Cebu, the Philippines.

Puntarik said the next three meetings regarding the matter would be held this year, and the discussions would include whether the instrument should be legally binding or not.

The instrument is expected to be drafted next year. –The Nation