MFA is a regional network of non-government organizations (NGOs), associations and trade unions of migrant workers, and individual advocates in Asia that are committed to protect and promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers. It is guided by a vision of an alternative world system based on respect for human rights and dignity, social justice, and gender equity, particularly for migrant workers. We are writing with regard to a very important and extremely urgent matter which I am sure you would take up today itself. There are thousands of ‘overstaying’ or undocumented Indians migrant workers in Oman. Overstaying in the sense, their visas and labour cards have expired. In October 2005, the Oman government allowed these workers to go home without paying any fine. An initial list of these workers were submitted to the Indian embassy. From 15 October 2005, the Embassy started the formalities and at the same time opened ad hoc counters at the Embassy (manned by volunteers) to register undocumented migrant workers.
Another fifteen thousand undocumented Indian migrant workers had already registered as of June 2006. The Man power Ministry of Sultanate of Oman agreed to accept the first 5000 odd names in the beginning and in February 2006, accepted the second list of 6000. Another 4000 names are yet to be accepted by the government.
Around 11,000 names have been approved by the government out of the 15,000 submitted. Out of the 11,000 only 3,000 have left the country so far. The present Ambassador, Mr. Ashok Kumar is not responding to the current plight of these undocumented migrant workers.
We have also received reports of Military arresting migrant workers in Salalah (southern province of Oman) on the pretext of counter checking insurgents. They even break into the houses and kept arresting people. These poor people are hand cuffed and taken to military barracks where there are no basic facilities. Food is provided only once in a day and that also of sub standard quality. There are no also adequate toilet facilities for the detainees.
The issue was raised in the Embassy Open House on May 19th 2006, From August 2004 till date 21 open houses have been conducted and surprisingly the Ambassador has not attended a single open house to listen to the problems of common Indians. It was the Counsellor, Mr.Thripathy who attended the Open house on 19.5.06). The officials replied us that they were aware of the situation and ‘ trying’ to solve the problem. However we have been iformed that , they have not even registered their protest with the local government.
MFA as regional network promoting the rights and well being of migrant workers in the region firmly believe that all migrant workers irregardless of their status have rights.
The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and members of their families state that migrant workers have the right to liberty and security of person; right to protection from cruel and inhuman punishment; right to legal personality and recognition as a person before the law; right to representation, consultation and protection from discrimination and exploitation. The arrest of undocumented migrant workers negates all the above mentioned rights. As a member of the United Nations we would like to remind you of your responsibility to protect the rights of migrant workers.
The Universal declaration of human rights also states that:
Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all rights and freedom set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against discrimination in violation
On the basis of the above United Nations Declarations Migrant Forum in Asia appeals to the government of India to:
- Provide assistance to undocumented Indian migrant workers in particular migrant workers who are in detention centers and speed up the processing of their papers.
- Provide timely intervention for undocumented workers who are in detention especially to those who have been in detained for more than two months.
- Ratify the United Nations Migrant workers Convention and promote the rights of all migrant workers.
- That the government draw up a labour migration framework based on ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration
PLEASE SEND THE LETTER TO THE FOLLOWING PERSONS:
H.E. Mr. Ashok Kumar Attri
Ambassador of india-sultanate of oman
fax 24817503 (General)
24816299 (Consular & Community Welfare Wings)
H.E. Yousef Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah
Minister Responsible For Foreign Affairs
Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs
tel 91-11-24676839 / 24676837
Mr. Nirmal Singh
tel (91-11) 24674144 / 24674143 / 24197902 / 24197991