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Advancements in eliminating child labour feted

6 Oct 2020

The US Department of Labor’s annual report on child labour in 145 countries and territories has praised the efforts made by the sultanate in the field of combating child labour, noting the legislation and decisions issued by Omani authorities in this regard. 

The report – titled ‘2019 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor’ – stated that in 2019, Oman made advancements in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. 

‘The Ministry of Social Development issued regulations for determining whether a child is employed in a family business, and for the medical examinations that a business must complete before employing a child. In addition, the National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking conducted two multi-day training programmes on human trafficking for government officials and the Ministry of Manpower released a video in Arabic and English that clarified the rights and responsibilities of migrant workers,’ the report stated. 

Legal framework for child labour

According to the report, Oman has ratified all key international conventions concerning child labour including the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention concerning Minimum Age, Worst Forms of Child Labour, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict, UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.

It added that the government’s laws and regulations are in line with relevant international standards. 

Labour Law enforcement is done by agencies such as the Ministry of Manpower, which conducts yearly inspections of all private institutions and re-inspections of workplaces found to be in violation of labour laws. The Ministry of Manpower also conducts labour inspections following a complaint. 

‘The Ministry of Manpower did not report an exact number of labour inspectors in 2019, but officials indicated it exceeds the ILO’s recommended number of inspectors for the size of Oman’s workforce,’ the report stated.

In 2019, the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) issued implementing regulations for the Child Law defining which family members count in determining whether a child’s employment is in a family business.

The regulations also stipulate intervals and certification requirements for medical examinations of employed children. 

The Ministry of Manpower and the MoSD can coordinate with the Royal Oman Police to shelter child victims and refer violators for criminal investigation. An official stated that the Ministry of Manpower can refer a case of child labour to the MoSD if a child is under the minimum age for work. 

The report added that ‘although research is limited, there is evidence that children in Oman engage in child labour, including in fishing and selling items in kiosks. Government policies do not address all forms of child labour and the Ministry of Manpower is not represented on the National Committee on Implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.’

 

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