UN expert on human trafficking calls on Oman to do more to help victims

UN expert on human trafficking calls on Oman to do more to help victims

Human rights Special Rapporteur Sigma Huda
While Oman has made some progress in helping combat the global problem of human trafficking, it needs to do more to follow-up on international obligations, an independent United Nations expert has said after completing a five-day fact-finding mission to the Sultanate, during which she met officials, victims and representatives of civil society.

“I am pleased to note that, following its accession in 2005 to the Palermo Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children… the Government has established a technical committee to review all related legislation, assess outstanding needs and propose measures,” Sigma Huda, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons told reporters yesterday.

“Yet much remains to be done for the Government to implement Oman’s international obligations related to human trafficking… I have found that a number of human beings, including women, travel to Oman in order to make a living for themselves and earn money to send to the families and loved ones they leave thousands of kilometres behind,” she said.

“Some of these migrant workers are often lured in their country of origin by unscrupulous recruiting agents with false promises of a certain job or certain working conditions. More often than not they are shocked to find themselves in exploitative situations upon arrival,” she said, adding that “casual labourers” are one of the most disadvantaged groups and most open to abuse.

Ms. Huda said that the authorities of both sending and receiving countries have a “responsibility to identify, prosecute and punish those unscrupulous recruiting agencies,” and she also highlighted that some domestic workers experience “degrading conditions” from their employers, although their suffering often goes unnoticed.

She also expressed concern at reports of an “extensive sweep of arrests” of foreign workers during the summer aimed at identifying those without valid documents and deporting them back to their countries of origin, highlighting also that access to justice for domestic and other migrant workers with complaints of abuse “remains inadequate.”

“Applicable international standards oblige Oman to identify and treat victims of human trafficking as victims. However, domestic workers who flee situations of exploitation and abuse are frequently re-victimized,” she pointed out, encouraging the Government “to consider the possibility of creating shelters that could accommodate safely victims of abuse and exploitation including domestic migrant workers, following the examples of other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

Special Rapporteurs are unpaid independent experts with a mandate from the Human Rights Council who also make periodic reports to the General Assembly.