Solutions Sakaja-Led Team Proposed to Address Plight of Kenyans in Gulf States

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the visitors book at Kenya School of Government on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives at Kenya School of Government on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
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  • In the wake of rampant cases of domestic workers being mistreated and mysteriously dying in the Middle East, the Senate through the Committee on Labour and Social welfare recommended a raft of measures to curb the agony of Kenyans.

    Members of the Standing Committee on Labour and Social Welfare in the 12th parliament led by then Chairperson Johnson Sakaja toured two Middle East destinations for a study visit to probe the plight of Kenyan workers in April 2021.

    The nine-member committee also engaged stakeholders including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior Coordination and the National Employment Authority where they deliberated on measures to improve processes and close governance of labour migration. 

    An image of the Senate committee in parliament in a past proceeding.
    A file image of the Senate committee in parliament in a past proceeding.
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    Key in the committee's observations include the lack of a comprehensive policy and legal framework to guide, govern and create stability in labour migrations. The committee also found out that immigrant workers from Kenya lacked formal mechanisms of representation in the five countries. 

    This study culminated in recommendations deemed as necessary in the efforts to curb the headache of workers. 

    The recommendations were birthed from a study visit to Dubai, and Saudi Arabia in 2021. 

    Establishment of fully fledged labour offices and safe houses in Riyadh and Jeddah accessible to any Kenyan in distress

    The committee presented to the speaker a recommendation to establish labour offices and safe houses in Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. These offices, according to the report, would help in providing to Kenyan workers in Saudi in case of need. 

    The rise in the number of Kenyan workers in the Middle East, the report states, necessitates enhanced governance and the creation of stronger links between the Government of Kenya and the governments in the Gulf. Thus, establishing these offices would be instrumental in the strive to solve domestic workers' plight. 

    Formal recognition of Welfare associations of Kenyans in Saudi Arabia

    The report also recommended formal recognition of welfare associations formed by Kenyans in Saudi. According to the report, Kenyans working in Saudi have formed welfare associations including the Kenyan Jaaliat Association (KJSA) with the aim of responding to distress complaints.

    Fresh vetting and registration of all local recruitment agencies

    Further, the Senate report recommended fresh vetting of all recruitment agencies in Kenya.

    The Ministry of Labour was handed the responsibility of setting vetting standards and ensuring that no agency will operate without meeting the set requirements.

     Setting of Minimum Deposit For Recruitment Agencies

    Further, the government is required to set the minimum deposit for recruitment agencies accredited to transact any business pertaining immigration of workers. This is meant to ensure that the agencies have the capacity to repatriate a worker in case of distress complaints. 

    Despite the recommendations, complaints of torture and mistreatment of Kenyans have persisted over time. The most recent case where a Kenyan lady identified as Diana Chepkemoi was repatriated from Saudi Arabia after public uproar.

    While responding to the uproar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Ambassador Macharia Kamau reiterated that the government warned against immigration of domestic workers from Kenya to the Gulf nations. 

    Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau in Parliament on February 21, 2018.
    Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau in Parliament on February 21, 2018.
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