Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Interior, represented by the Human Rights -
Department, organized a seminar to commemorate International Human Rights Day. The event, which is celebrated annually on December 10th, was held at the Ministry of Interior’s auditorium. This year’s event took place under the slogan “20 Years of Working for your Rights” and marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
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Brigadier Ahmed Mohammed Nehkairah, Head of Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Interior attended the seminar along with Mahir Al Obad, Assistant Undersecretary for Inspection Affairs at the Ministry of Labor; Brigadier General Dr. Abdullah bin Sahoo Al Suwaidi, Director General of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Sharjah; Brigadier Mohammed Khalifa Al Marar, Director General of Undersecretary Diwan at the Ministry of Interior; and a number of other officers from the Ministry of Interior.
In his speech, Brigadier Nehkairah said that the Ministry of Interior is one of the ministries responsible for protecting Human Rights. He said that the ministry is committed to keep up with national and international developments in human rights, and is determined to increase the awareness of human rights within the ministry: “The Ministry of Interior is keen to boosting collaboration with all concerned bodies and authorities. This strategy aims toimplement the best methods and practices that can improve the UAE’s position in both regional and international spheres.
He also added that the ministry is deeply concerned with institutional structures that take care of and maintain human rights and is concerned with protecting victims against any infringements that they might be subjected to. To attain this goal, the ministry established the Human Rights Department and other establishments. The ministry has also inaugurated the Human Rights Committee and the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, in addition to giving extra care to all members of society, especially women, children, people with special needs, the elderly, and crime victims.
Brigadier Nehkairah concluded his speech by thanking the attendees for the efforts they made to bring it success. He also wished them luck and success.
For his part, Brigadier General Dr. Abdullah bin Sahoo Al Suwaidi, Director General of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Sharjah, elaborated in his essay on the efforts made to protect house maids in the UAE. He pointed out that the UAE is a role model in the field of human rights, particularly among the labor force. He explained how the country’s higher leadership has offered the labor force all of its attention by issuing legislations and programs that grant workers a respectable life. This strategy was reflected in the UAE 2021 Vision which aims to establish a stable job market that is based on a productive work force that has the ability to strengthen the economy.
He added that the UAE is toiling at various levels to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals, and to improve their living conditions; issues that come at the top of the federal government’s priorities. “The country’s leadership did not only concentrate on the legislative aspect; it has joined efforts with various government and private institutions to achieve this goal, out of the abiding faith in the need to work according to a unified system to protect human rights and support the labor force.
He stated that domestic service workers are subject to direct supervision by the Ministry of Interior, and that the ministry has taken all the necessary measures to improve their conditions. This is in line with the ministry’s objectives of achieving equality, preserving human rights, and protecting domestic service workers in the UAE. To attain these objectives, the ministry has issued a number of procedures to safeguard and aid the laborers. The procedures include, but are not limited to, imposing work contracts, holding specialized training programs, and establishing institutions that educate, raise awareness, and settle disputes.
Brigadier General Abdullah bin Sahoo Al Suwaidi said that the government is making efforts to implement a law designed specifically for domestic workers. The law will mark a milestone in the government’s journey in improving the laws and regulations that aim to create security, stability, and a respectable life for all the people that live in this country.
The bill contains a number of articles that protect the rights of domestic workers. These include articles that will help the organization of labor agencies and define their responsibilities, regulate work conditions and time off. The articles specify what the employers’ responsibilities are and impose inspections on all domestic service agencies, making sure that employers meet certain requirements regarding working conditions and accommodation. The articles also address compensation laws and other rights the workers are entitled to through their contracts.
The new law will complement the government’s procedures in protecting domestic service workers, eliminating bad practices that the workers are sometimes subjected to, and ensures the rights of these workers in their different categories. Along with this new law, the Emirati judicial system was able to create an exemplary department that specializes in such labor cases. The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) took an unprecedented step and established a judicial section at various judiciary levels that specializes in domestic service-related issues. These courts work within the framework of the UAE’s judicial system, and is meant to apply the principles of specialized laws, ensuring and providing more protection for these workers. ADJD also decided on establishing a specialized committee that will settle domestic service-related disputes. The committees will be responsible for reconciliation and will work under the Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) Section at the department.
Mahir Al Obad, Assistant Undersecretary for Inspection Affairs at the Ministry of Labor, presented an essay on human rights in relation to job market, highlighting the Ministry of Labor’s mission to regulate the job market. He also explained that the ministry is committed to providing basic rights for laborers because the UAE’s leadership believes that workers deserve to have their rights protected. Based on this vision, the government issued Federal Law NO. (8) Of 1980 regulating work conditions. The government issued amendments and executive orders with a view to establish a legal framework that will protect workers. He pointed out that the Emirati legislator granted women and juveniles their rights, and placed these regulations within the framework of law to ensure their protection by issuing standards and principles defined in Federal Law NO. (8) Of 1980. This law preserves the worker’s rights. Through this law, the Emirati legislator defined the conditions of hiring workers, and drafted the laws that prevent juveniles under the age of 15 from working. This law also grants women their rights and prevents them from being hired for dangerous work. It also grants women their maternity leave and designated breastfeeding hours.
Mr. Al Obad emphasized the need to regulate the job market to ensure foreign workers are granted their rights, and emphasized the fact that workers have freedom of choice and are working in a country that has a system of transparency. This was accomplished by cooperating with their home countriesin order to deliver awareness programs that are offered when they leave their countries, and are offered upon arrival in the UAE.
The regulations also limit labor agencies’ activities, which ultimately helps prevent cases of human trafficking. In addition to that, various mechanisms and procedures were developed to issue work permits, eliminating black market visas and makes changing jobs an easier process.
He also explained that the Ministry of Labor has taken several steps to control the job market by granting workers the right to move to a new job after finishing the specified employment period indicated on their contracts, granting the worker the right to moving to a new employer if his current employer does not execute his obligations, and developing a system that protects employees’ salaries.
Mr. Al Obad concluded his presentation by pointing out the international agreements that the UAE has signed with the International Labor Organization.
At the end of the event, Brigadier General Abdullah bin Sahoo Al Suwaidi and Mr. Mahir Al Obad answered the audience’s questions.
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