Kampala. The government has frozen the export of Ugandans to work in Oman, in the Middle East, pending a planned investigation by an ad hoc committee into a litany of alleged grotesque rights violations.
Gender Minister Janat Mukwaya announced the suspension yesterday, but gave no timeline of when the probe committee will start work.
“We have suspended any labour exportation to the country (Oman) due to the many cases of violation of migrant workers’ rights,” the minister said, disclosing that she last week was on the same plane with 15 Ugandan women she suspected were being trafficked to Jordan.
This newspaper, based on victims’ testimonies, has over the months reported about alleged borderless ill-treatment of Ugandan women hired as domestic workers and turned in the country into sex slaves.
Most victims are individuals processed for the jobs by companies that have not signed up with Uganda government to regularise their business, presenting to authorities a challenge of how to trace their whereabouts or demand accountability.
Cases of torture
In April, we reported about the plight of six women who fled the torture chambers of their employers and sought refuge at an employment agent’s offices in Ibra, some 170 kilometres from the capital Muscat.
They alleged that their employers failed to treat them when indisposed and held them incommunicado on one meal a day.
Speaking at the national symposium and expo on externalisation of labour migration, minister Mukwaya yesterday: “We have highly-placed Omanis who were born here, but now serving in [their home] government and we still have a big number of Omanis here with us; that is why trafficking [of Ugandans] to Oman is an easy job to do.”
We were unable to reach Oman officials to respond to the allegations.
Minister Mukwaya said they will soon dispatch a fact-finding team to Muscat to confer with officials over there and help Uganda determine whether to terminate forever the export of Ugandans for jobs in Oman.