Oman Human Rights Commission (OHRC) under its jurisdictions and responsibilities followed up the report published by “International Committee for Migration”, and London Guardian concerning the complaints of mistreatment of domestic workers who had traveled from the Republic of Sierra Leone to work in Oman.
In brief the British Guardian published that domestic workers who came from the Republic of Sierra Leone to work in Oman in different jobs based on an agreement between them, and recruitment agencies inside their countries for good salaries. In addition, some workers agreed with same agencies to work in European countries, without informing them that they are going to Oman in order to work as domestic workers.
Based on the communications received from “Project 189” in London – an international organization that supports the rights of migrant workers in the Middle East region – with regard to what has been raised by domestic workers from Sierra Leone, OHRC coordinated with concerned authorities in Oman in order to investigate the reality of the issue at hand. Therefore, concerned authorities clarified and affirmed that labor rights are guaranteed by Omani local laws and legislations including the rights of domestic workers which includes the assurance of obtaining the agreed monthly wage within a period not exceeding seven days from the end of each month or according to what the two parties agree upon as well as signing of receiving it or whatsoever prove that, the provision of appropriate food and housing, and the provision of the necessary medical treatment by the employer for the duration of the contract.
In addition, the law stipulated that the domestic worker shall get a rest time during a day, as well as she / he has the right to obtain a monthly leave day as agreed upon in the work contract, and obtaining a vacation after the period agreed upon, with an emphasis on decent humanitarian treatment that preserves the dignity of the worker.
Moreover, the domestic worker shall obtain a travel ticket to return to his/her country, which is borne by the recruitment office within 180 days from the date of the worker’s arrival in case it is proven that his/ her profession conflicts with the occupation specified for him/ her in the recruitment license, or suffers from a mental or contagious disease, or has a disability that does not enable him to perform his work. Domestic workers can also obtain a ticket to return to their country which cost will be borne by the employer at the end of the contract period, or when the employer’s breach of the contract.
In case of any violations on labor rights, including domestic workers, which may be located in any country in the world, the worker may resort to legal means after the possibility of reporting the complaint through various bodies, including:
- The Ministry of Labor.
- Royal Oman Police.
- Public Prosecution.
- The National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking.
- The Oman Human Rights Commission.
Any expatriate worker may register his/ her complaint by going directly to such authorities, or reporting to them via hotlines, text messages, WhatsApp, voice mail, e-mail, or through their websites on the Internet.
On the other hand, the law stipulated that the worker should not commit any unlawful individual behavior such as leaving, or stopping work, or absconding, therefore, in case of any harm, he/ she must resort to non-Omani manpower recruitment offices; As the office is responsible for settling most of the disputes related to wages, or the nature of work indicated in the contract during the first six months.
Moreover, if the complaint is not settled with the employer or the manpower recruitment office, he /she has the right to submit a complaint to the labor welfare departments of the Ministry of Labor to settle the dispute between the worker and the employer, noting that these departments exist in all governorates of the Oman.
As a result, if the complaint is still not settled within two weeks in the labor welfare departments or either of the two parties refuses to implement it, the competent department shall refer the matter to the competent court (the labor department) within a period not exceeding two weeks from the date of the expiry of the mentioned period. The Omani law also guaranteed the expatriate workers who cannot speak Arabic to obtain a translation including the facts of all hearings, in addition to exemption from litigation-related fees.
In some cases where domestic workers fall victims to human trafficking so that they are exploited in work that is conflict with their work contract or forced to carry out illegal work, they can inform the “National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking” to take the necessary action to protect the affected worker and follow her rights in coordination with the Ministry of Social Development, which providing a shelter for victims of human trafficking (Dar Al-Wifaq) ensuring legal assistance, health and psychological care, and subsistence in the shelter, with the aim of mitigating the effects of any inhuman exploitation.
Hence, it is clear to OHRC that the aforementioned workers referred to in the press report or through the aforementioned international organization have been deceived by recruitment agencies in their countries, and this is what was published by the London Guardian. In addition, the domestic worker were circumvented and persuaded regarding the nature of the jobs offered, the monthly wage, and the place of residence, before they travel to any destination outside their country. As a result, some of them escaped from their employers after discovering the inaccuracy and honesty of what had been reported to them by the labor recruitment agencies in their countries. On the other hand, the aforementioned workers had to report their complaints to the concerned authorities and follow them up in accordance with the laws and procedures in force, and they could also inform the competent authorities at the airport of refusing to travel to their countries if the recruitment office decided to deport them, in condition they prove that they did not obtain their rights or exposed to any abuse.
OHRC assures that it monitors human rights violations through several means such as receiving complaints through the direct presence by the complainant at the commission’s headquarter, or the submitting the complaint through several means including e-mail, website, and direct contact via Phone, record the report via voice mail, or communicate through (WhatsApp) number, Or via the social media accounts, thus OHRC coordinates with the competent authorities to work on settling cases and violations in accordance with the local laws in force.
OHRC as per its jurisdictions welcomes any observations or complaints on human rights issues in Oman, and work to investigate the reality and settle such cases.