World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

and the position of Oman

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On July 30th, the international community marks the United Nations’ World Day against Trafficking in Persons. “Trafficking in persons”, at the heart of which is exploitation, is defined as:

“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”[1]

(Article 3 (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime)

Oman has signed Protocols to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child protecting children from involvement in armed conflict and from exploitation for the purposes of prostitution and pornography.

Royal Decree No. 126 of 2008 promulgated the Law Combating Trafficking in Persons, and a National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking was set up. However, it is clear from cases monitored by the Omani Centre for Human Rights (OCHR), as well as cases brought to light by other NGOs, that a significant amount of exploitation goes on in Oman of domestic and other migrant workers, and that Omani laws are powerless to protect these people from exploitation and trafficking.

Under the kafala (sponsorship) system, these workers find themselves in the wretched situation of being paid less than the minimum needed to live with dignity and to avoid being trafficked, or else having their sponsors claw back portions of their monthly salaries in exchange for their residence permits.  This is what Omani activists are seeing on social media.

In the latest US State Department Report on Trafficking in Persons, Oman remains classified as “Tier 2”, and although the report commends the Omani government’s efforts to combat the problem, it also says “the Government of Oman does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”.[2]

According to reports and complaints reaching the OCHR, the Omani authorities do not treat seriously the issues affecting female domestic workers, or even migrant workers generally, and especially those exploited by being employed in more than one job for no additional pay, or being paid below the rate that was agreed. Many housemaids, in particular, still complain that the authorities do not take seriously the issues of sexual harassment or of having their sponsorship transferred from one person to another without their consent.

The OCHR invites you to report any complaint, or to expose a case of abuse, by contacting the Centre at

reportit@ochroman.org

 

 

Finally, in your opinion,

what can be done to guard against human trafficking and exploitation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto (unodc.org)

[2] TIP_Report_Final_20210701.pdf (state.gov)

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