Oman’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has described the recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, which accused Oman of not doing enough to tackle widespread abuse of foreign maids, as “unrealistic and unfair”.
HRW last week said it had documented physical and sexual abuse, confiscation of passports, excessive working hours and at least one case in which a maid was "sold" to another employer in the sultanate. The report was based on interviews with 59 domestic maids working in Oman.
HRW said it had concluded that Oman's laws did not adequately protect the maids and employers often mistreated them without being punished.
In response, NHRC told Times of Oman that the report “did not paint a true picture”, with National Centre for Statistics and Information data showing that there are almost 144,700 domestic workers in Oman.
“Instead of publishing a negative report without cooperating with the National Human Rights Commission, HRW could have alerted the commission about cases of human rights violations in the Sultanate,” the commission told the newspaper.
“However, HRW had ignored the commission’s role in the settlement of such internal matters as stated in the complaints’ procedures in accordance with the text no. 1503, which was imposed by the World Human Rights Council regarding the role of national human rights institutions," it added.
Mohammad Al Khaldi, a trade unionist in Oman told the newspaper that there are violations are from both sides, housemaids and employers, but said the NHRC should find solutions to the issues raised by the report.
“The commission criticised the way the HRW conducted the report, which is true, but at the same time it is supposed to do the job in the right way and conduct studies on housemaid issues and find proper solutions. The problem begins from the agencies hiring housemaids as they deal with such people as items placing a large number of housemaids in small rooms and offer employers to choose from them,” Al Khaldi said.
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