The Sultanate of Oman will join the rest of the world countries in marking the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which falls on 30 July every year. The theme of this year is “Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind”.
Meanwhile, Oman continues its relentless efforts to combat human trafficking. It is considered one of the first countries to endorse a special legislation to eliminate this crime, namely the law on combating human trafficking.
In a statement to Oman News Agency (ONA), Sheikh Khalifa Ali Al Harthy, Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry for Political Affairs and Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) said that the Sultanate of Oman has paid great attention to combating the crime of human trafficking and all practices associated with it that contradict human principles and values.
He affirmed that combating this crime requires regional and international cooperation, as Oman continues to protect people and their dignity, and achieve their ambitions and aspirations.
He also confirmed that Oman, represented by the NCCHT, continues to work diligently in accordance with internal and regional laws, treaties and conventions related to combating human trafficking to address this phenomenon. He pointed out that the committee works within the framework of cooperation with its partners in civil society at the national and international levels to combat human trafficking, uphold the rule of law and preserve human values.
Sheikh Al Harthy further noted that the Sultanate of Oman has shown unremitting efforts in confronting this crime, based on the Basic Law of the State, which guarantees justice and equality for all segments of society, and maintains security and protection for citizens and residents from any transgressions affecting their dignity and legitimate rights.
Stemming from the belief in the importance of involving all government and non-government units in providing protection for victims of human trafficking,
Sheikh Al Harthy explained that Oman’s government cooperates withinstitutions of the private sector, as well as the civil society in this regard.
He affirmed that the national committee has been exerting sincere efforts to address these extraneous phenomena. In this context, he pointed out that the committee has completed the preparation for the new draft law to combat human trafficking, in cooperation with international and local experts, as well as the the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
On his turn, Judge Dr. Hatem Ali, Regional Representative of the UNODC Regional Office for the Gulf Cooperation Council lauded the efforts exerted by Oman to combat this crime through developing the national system, which includes the establishment of a national referral system, building and developing the capabilities of law enforcement agencies, criminal justice and the labor system, in addition to the human rights system.
In a high-level international meeting on combating human trafficking held at the United Nations headquarters in New York in 2021, the Sultanate of Oman affirmed that this phenomenon is not compatible with its firm principles and values. Oman also underscored it determination to eradicate this phenomenon by all legal means.
The Sultanate of Oman has achieved many successes in the past period through the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), including the accession of the Sultanate of Oman, by Royal Decree No. 46/2020, to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which is related to granting individuals, including workers, their rights and preventing them from being subjected to any violation.
Oman is also making extensive efforts to improve working conditions and guarantee workers’ rights in terms of occupational safety and health, and guarantee their legal rights. The issuance of the Labour Law by Royal Decree No. 53/2023 dates 7/25/2023 represents one of these efforts.
The law included many articles covering labour issues, such as work contract, employer and worker obligations, working hours, vacations, wages, employment of minors, occupational safety and health standards at work, settlement of labou disputes, penalties, and others.
Oman’s efforts in this regard also includes the formation of a national committee comprising several government units concerned with developing a high-level national plan to combat human trafficking, based on the provisions of Article 22 of the Anti-Human Trafficking Law issued by Royal Decree No. 126/2008.
The committee conducts relevant studies and research, and carries out media campaigns to combat the crime of human trafficking and protect the victims. It acts as a center for coordinating national efforts in the field of combating human trafficking.
The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) draws up a national action plan every three years based on the outputs of national and international reports and recommendations to combat human trafficking, in a manner that copes with prevailing laws and regulations in the Sultanate of Oman.
Oman provides hotlines for reporting the crime of human trafficking, operating around the clock in Arabic and English. Reporting can also be done through the committee’s website, which provides reports in 14 languages.
The most remarkable efforts made by the Sultanate of Oman in terms of judicial prosecution were allocating an office for combating human trafficking in the Public Prosecution, the Royal Oman Police, the Ministry of Labour and the Foreign Ministry.
The efforts also include the formation of a rapid intervention team in 2019 headed by the Public Prosecution and comprises the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Social Development and the Royal Oman Police.
Meanwhile, the Department of combating human trafficking at the Royal Oman Police was upgraded to an administration that includes 4 departments, namely monitoring and information gathering, international cooperation, case affairs, and coordination and follow-up.
In order to preserve the values of humanity, maintain the status of people and protect them from any form of slavery, the Royal Oman Police, represented by the Directorate General of Inquiries and Criminal Investigations, plays remarkable roles in combating the crime of human trafficking, according to an efficient and highly professional work system.
On its turn, The Ministry of Labour plays an important role in combating human trafficking. It includes a special section for combating human trafficking, which is concerned with investigating complaints related to human trafficking and providing victims with necessary care.
The section also organizes awareness and educational campaigns to prevent human trafficking, cooperates with local and international units in combating human trafficking and exchanges information and experiences, as well as providing training and vocational rehabilitation for victims to increase their chances of obtaining legitimate and sustainable job opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Social Development plays a remarkable role also in this regard. The Department of Family Protection at the Directorate General of Family Development provides protection and assistance to victims of human trafficking through a number of programmes, such as “Care & Rehabilitation”, “Social Care” and “Health Care”.
The department also provides temporary accommodation for the victims.
With regard to legal protection, the Ministry of Social Development takes legal measures through its legal specialists, in a way that guarantees the protection of victims.
The Directorate General of Family Department has also signed many memorandums of cooperation with a number of civil society institutions in the Sultanate of Oman with regard to combating human trafficking.
It should be emphasized that combating human trafficking is a national responsibility, which requires the solidarity of all members of society to confront and combat it in cooperation with the departments concerned. In this context, the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) plays pioneering roles and provides protection and assistance to victims.
The national plan devised by the NCCHT to combat human trafficking for the period 2021-2023 includes many themes, most importantly training front-line workers and enhancing community awareness.
In this regard, efforts were unified among all parties concerned to spread the necessary awareness by launching campaigns targeting the groups most at risk of falling victim to human trafficking.
The NCCHT continues to organize many programmes, workshops, seminars and conferences to raise awareness on human trafficking.