The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has put in place stringent measures to guarantee the safety of Kenyan workers after the uproar caused over cases of mistreatment and mysterious deaths of domestic workers in the gulf country.
In a statement by Kenya’s Ministry of Labour, some of the new measures include the introduction of a wage protection program and a distress alert line to law enforcement officers.
Further, Saudi Arabia formed a protection and support department under the Ministry of Human Resources and social development that will handle complaints from migrant workers, recruitment agencies and embassies.
To supplement the initiatives, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia added measures including the introduction of a labour reform initiative that allowed employees to change employers should they face any form of harassment. The labour reforms also define detailed procedures on how immigrant workers may exit or extend a contract.
Other measures include activating the alternative dispute resolution mechanism that allows cases referred to court are resolved within three weeks.
Locally, the Kenyan government established an oversight and community feedback mechanism to facilitate continuous monitoring of private employment agencies. This would aid in ensuring ethical recruitment and weed out unscrupulous agencies. In regards to this, the government urged Kenyans to only use accredited agencies.
In addition, the employment agencies will have to familiarise Kenyans seeking employment in the gulf country with the new measures before they sign a contract.
Moreover, a toll-free line 0800222223 and a web portal to report migrant workers' distress cases were set up.
The new measures come after the plight of several Kenyans facing mistreatment in the Gulf countries was highlighted. In particular, 24-year-old Kenyan student, Diana Chepkemoi's case made headlines with her photos circulating online capturing her desperate state.
The government intervened and brought Diana back to the country days after her situation was highlighted. During her arrival, she noted that other Kenyans faced worse conditions while working in the gulf country.
"I left Kenya to go to Saudi Arabia with the hopes of getting a better life and to be honest, mine was just the tip of the iceberg, people are suffering there. My friends are suffering.
"I plead with the government to rescue our people. They are psychologically and mentally tortured. It's a shame being told that there is nothing the government can do," Chepkemoi stated.
Chepkemoi later received a job and a full scholarship from Meru University to continue with her education.
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