15 November 2017

Tanzania: Queries Over Blocking of Abuse Report

Dar es Salaam — The Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) has issued an order to stop the Human Rights Watch (HRW) from launching its report on abuses against migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman.

Dr Willium Kindekete, a Costech research officer, told reporters yesterday that the commission moved to stop the launch of the report after learning that the researchers did not follow the laid down procedures.

He said while the findings in the report compiled by the HRW were about abuse Tanzanian girls were facing from their employers in the UAE and Oman, the researchers did not travel to the aforementioned countries to prove their claims.

Dr Kindekete said the HRW officials, who were to launch the report, also had some immigration issues.

"Their visas do not identify them as researchers, but mere visitors, so they aren't allowed to work in the country unless they have work permits," said Dr Kindekete.

According to him, Costech is a custodian of all researches in the country.

However, the HRW researcher on Middle East and North Africa Women's Rights, Ms Rothna Begum protested the Costech decision, insisting that the association carried out its research in accordance with the procedures.

Ms Begum said she and her colleagues were shocked after receiving a directive to stop launching the report at the eleventh hour. They were barely an hour away from starting a ceremony to launch it.

She claimed that something might have been going on behind the scene, which influenced the Costech decision, disclosing that she had already met with various officials in the ministry of Foreign Affairs and ministry of Labour, who okayed the launch.

"I don't know what happened within one hour," she said. Furthermore, she explained that the real focus of the research was to give a chance to the government to forge a way forward in helping the domestic workers who are abused in the UAE and Oman.

She said the research was carried out from November 2016 to Feb 2017 in Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo, Mwanza and Zanzibar. The study revealed that thousands of Tanzanian domestic workers in the Middle East have decent working conditions, but many others face abuse.

She said the HRW interviewed 87 people, including Tanzanian officials, trade unionists, recruitment agents and 50 Tanzanian female domestic workers who worked in Oman and the UAE.

According to her, half the number of domestic workers were from Mainland Tanzania and the rest from Zanzibar.

"All the respondents said their employers and agents confiscated their passports. Many worked long hours (up to 21 hours a day) without rest. They said they were paid less than what they were promised and sometimes they aren't paid at all," she said.

Ms Begum added : "Some of them are forced to feed on spoiled or leftovers, shouted at and insulted daily and physically, and sexually abused."


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