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OHRC addresses BBC report on Malawian workers in Oman

23 Mar 2024 OHRC addresses BBC report on Malawian workers in Oman By OUR CORRESPONDENT

Muscat – Oman Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has expressed concern over a BBC Africa report alleging human trafficking of Malawian female workers in Oman. The commission scrutinised the documentary and accompanying report, which claimed mistreatment of these workers, and clarified several points to provide a comprehensive view of the situation.

The report in question, involving 50 Malawian domestic workers, lacked detailed cases, according to OHRC. It emphasised the fact that matters related to deceit by recruitment agencies in the home country should be addressed by the Malawian Government. Additionally, OHRC highlighted the workers’ ability to reach out via social media and other channels, indicating they had access to mechanisms in Oman to protect their rights.

OHRC refuted the report’s claims, stating these contradict Oman’s labour laws that strictly prohibit forced labour and the confiscation of workers’ personal documents. The commission also pointed out that it had received only two complaints from Malawian workers in 2023, which we-re promptly addressed in collaboration with Ministry of Labour.

Regarding correspondence received by OHRC from Do Bold – a non-profit working in Gulf states on issues that affect migrant workers – only one communication was received concerning a Malawian domestic worker. ‘The organisation was asked for further information about the worker. However, it later informed that the issue had been resolved with the employer through alternative means resulting in the worker’s repatriation, without requiring intervention from OHRC.’

Official data shows Malawian maids constitute a minor fraction (0.3%) of Oman’s domestic workforce, underscoring the rarity of such cases. OHRC stressed the protective measures under Omani law, which ensure workers’ rights to fair wages, adequate living conditions, medical care and humane treatment.

OHRC’s response underscores Oman’s commitment to upholding labour rights and the importance of accurate reporting and direct communication with relevant authorities to address and resolve workers’ issues effectively.

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