Human trafficking forum calls for updating laws to keep pace with crime rates, techniques

by | Apr 17, 2024 | 0 comments

MUSCAT –  The Government Forum to Combat Human Trafficking in the Middle East (2024), hosted by the Sultanate of Oman, came up with a number of recommendations, among them calls for updating laws to keep pace with human trafficking crimes and novel techniques that the criminals use to hide their violations.

The forum, titled “Combating human trafficking through labour legislation and procedures”, was held in Muscat today. It underscored the importance of periodically reviewing the laws in force, including those directly dealing with trafficking in persons or those pertaining to work in private sectors.

The forum recommended that statutes should be updated to ensure that they keep pace with developments in crimes and methodologies of committing them, in addition to expanding supervisory role of labour inspectors. The forum stressed the need to form a technical working group that comprises representatives of the departments concerned, the Secretariat of the Forum, the “United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime” and UN agencies concerned. The working group is envisaged to devise a roadmap for implementing the recommendations of the forum, besides following up action to meet the forum’s overall goals.

The opening ceremony of the forum was held under the auspices of Dr Mahad Said Ba’Owain, Minister of Labour.

The event sought to develop a unified vision to combat human trafficking in a manner that ensures the sustainability and effectiveness of punitive measures, training those operating in the field combating the crime and specialized assistance for victims.

Sheikh Khalifa Issa Al Harthy, Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry for Political Affairs, Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, said that the Sultanate of Oman took many measures to protect workers from exposure to exploitation or human trafficking. This approach, he explained, included the promulgation of a new labour law pursuant to Royal Decree No. (53/2023). The statute included articles prohibiting forced labour and associated practices, he added.

Sheikh Khalifa added that other measures undertaken by Oman included the following:
– The formation of a team from relevant government departments to enhance bilateral cooperation with labour exporting countries. The team visited 10 countries where it signed memorandums of understanding in the field of labour and prevention of human trafficking.

– The introduction of a Wage Protection System (an electronic monitoring tool) was launched. The system serves as a link between the Ministry of Labour and the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) and helps monitor wage disbursement processes in private sector establishments. Through the system, the authorities concerned could follow up the extent to which private enterprises continue to pay workers their dues in accordance with the provisions of Article 87 of the Labour Law.

– The establishment of a joint inspection unit serving as a link between the Ministry of Labour and the security and safety service. The unit seeks to enhance the quality and efficiency of inspection operations and liaising with security support services. The step helps the intensification of campaigns to prevent the employment of loose labour, as well as the streamlining of employment procedures.

– The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking launched a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (2024-2026) to boost the Sultanate of Oman’s efforts to prevent and penalize human trafficking in its various forms.

– Preparation of a new law to combat human trafficking after amending and developing the current law.

For his part, Dr. Hatem Ali, GCC Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by Oman to combat human trafficking through a clear and comprehensive methodology in supporting victims and raising community awareness of this crime.

As part of the forum’s activities, a discussion panel was held on preventing trafficking in persons through the enactment of national laws and regulations, review of the experiences of participating countries and study of the challenges posed to those who operate in the field of crime prevention. The discussion panel was attended by representatives of countries and international and regional organizations that participated in the forum.The discussions touched on practical measures undertaken by countries to combat human trafficking, exchanging ideas and successful experiences in this field and studying legal tools and administrative procedures to address the phenomenon of human trafficking.

The forum provided specific details about the challenges faced by participating countries, successful experiences and innovative practices that proved effective in reducing cases of human trafficking. The participants in the panel discussion also stressed the need to enhance international cooperation to address this dangerous phenomenon and protect the rights of victims.

The forum saw the participation of ministers, heads and members of the committees tasked with combating human trafficking crimes in GCC states, Jordan, Egypt, the Secretariat General of the GCC, the Arab League, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the US Department of State, the African Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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