No letup in abuse of domestic workers, says Lankan diplomat

Updated 05 February 2014
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No letup in abuse of domestic workers, says Lankan diplomat

Around three complaints are filed daily by Sri Lankan domestic workers against their Saudi sponsors, according to a statement issued by the Sri Lankan Consulate.
M.B.M. Zarook, consul for labor affairs, said the complaints are mostly regarding lack of salary payments, the renewal of the domestic workers’ contracts without their consent and some instances of beatings and physical abuse.
“Fifty Sri Lankan domestic workers made escape attempts in 2013,” said Zarook. “Cases involving sexual harassment among women workers transpire very rarely and do not exceed one case in every 1,000 workers.”
At present, around 350,000 workers and drivers reside in the Kingdom, with domestic workers representing 80 percent of them.
Zarook said the Sri Lankan government is providing training courses for domestic workers for three weeks in Sri Lanka prior to their traveling to Saudi Arabia.
“Workers receive language training, etiquette of hospitality training, lessons on how to run washing machines and home appliances, cooking lessons, and training on how to care for the elderly and children,” he said.
Early this month, the Kingdom decided to sign agreements with six labor-exporting countries to recruit domestic helpers as part of a comprehensive plan to streamline the domestic service sector.
Ahmed F. Al-Fahaid, deputy labor minister for international affairs, confirmed that Sri Lanka would ink a labor treaty in Riyadh on Jan. 14.
Mangala Randeniya, deputy general manager and media spokesman of the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment, said the agreement aims to reduce the cases of abuse and guarantee fair and humane treatment of domestic workers.
He said the contract would cover 12 groups of workers, including house drivers, cleaners, housemaids, janitors, tutors and waiters working for individuals or families.
However, the contract would only permit employment of domestic workers through licensed recruitment agencies, which act in accordance with the Kingdom’s regulations. It also extends to a protection mechanism, including insurance, especially for domestic workers.
Commenting on the visa rates, Zarook said it was an open market, and that the consulate had nothing to do with that. He confirmed that the rates depend on the brokers as well as the intermediary groups who travel between Sri Lanka and the Kingdom to raise the fare of visas and misuse the demand of families and scarcity of labor.
“The consulate plays a vital role by informing the recruitment offices and the workers in Sri Lanka about the importance of following work regulations in the Kingdom,” said Zarook


Investigation into alleged mistakes in Yemen find coalition forces acted properly

Updated 17 January 2019
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Investigation into alleged mistakes in Yemen find coalition forces acted properly

JEDDAH: The Joint Incident Assessment Team in Yemen (JIAT) has investigated four allegations made by international governmental and non-governmental organizations and media about mistakes made by coalition forces while carrying out military operations inside Yemen.
JIAT spokesman Mansour Al-Mansour said that the team concluded that the procedures followed by the coalition forces were proper and safe, taking into consideration the rules of engagement, international humanitarian law and the coalition’s own rules.
Team members visited a number of cities in Yemen, including Aden, Lahj and Khor Maksar, during the investigation and spoke to witnesses, victims and their families to gather evidence and establish the facts.
In one of the incidents that was investigated, coalition warship fired on and destroyed a craft in the waters off the Yemeni port of Al-Khokha in September. Al-Mansour said that after examining documents and evidence JIAT had concluded that an alliance ship was escorting and protecting a flotilla of three Saudi merchant ships when, in an area off the port of Al-Khokha, a boat was spotted approaching the convoy at a high speed from the direction of the Yemeni coast.
The escort ship followed the accepted rules of engagement by repeatedly warning the unidentified vessel, using loudspeakers, not to come any closer. When these went unheeded, warning shots were fired but the boat continued to approach.
“On reaching an area that represented a threat to the convoy, the protection ship tackled the boat according to the rules of engagement and targeted it, resulting in an explosion on the boat,” said Al-Mansour. “The protection ship continued escorting the convoy. After the escort task was completed, the protection ship returned to the site of the targeted boat to carry out a search-and-rescue operation for the crew of the target boat but no one was found.”