x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Report on UAE labour biased, says official

An International Labour Organisation report last week says the UAE's kafala system caused exploitation and that laws and governance were lacking.

ABU DHABI // A report criticising the UAE's sponsorship system, or kafala, was biased, a senior official said yesterday.

An International Labour Organisation report last week said the system caused exploitation and that laws and governance were lacking.

It said employers used the system to retain employees' passports and restrict their movement. Under kafala, employers have personal legal responsibility for the residency and employment of their domestic staff.

Dr Abdul Rahim Al Awadi, Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs, said the report was not a reflection of the reality.

"The UAE established a committee and there are a lot of things going on in the UAE to combat this crime," Dr Al Awadi said.

"The report was biased. It doesn't take into consideration all the efforts that the UAE makes on the ground in regards to these crimes."

He said sponsorship laws had been relaxed to make it easier for expatriates to change jobs. "And I think this is in response to a lot of requests internationally," he said.

After the release of the ILO report, Dr Saeed Al Ghafli, a member of the UAE Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, said it "did not rely on clear scientific method, it relied on talk from the street."

osalem@thenational.ae