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11 January 2019 08:21 am

NHRC signs cooperation memorandum with Philippines counterpart

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The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) of Qatar signed Wednesday a cooperation memorandum with its Philippines counterpart, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The memorandum was signed by HE Chairman of NHRC Dr. Ali bin Samikh Al Marri and CHR chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon.

Following the signing, HE Dr. Ali bin Samikh Al Marri stressed that the cooperation memo aims at strengthening close relations between the two parties in the fields of human rights and protection, especially the rights of workers from the Philippines and their families.

He added that the idea of signing this memorandum was in recognition of the distinguished role played by the Filipino community in Qatar and its participation in the development process as well as the desire of the NHRC to extend the cooperation with CHR as an institution similar to it in its functions and responsibilities.

Al Marri added that the memorandum was the culmination of previous efforts that included the opening of the office of the Philippine community at the headquarters of the NHRC, stressing his interest in working immediately to form a working group responsible for activating the terms of the agreement between the two sides.

He also expressed his hope that the two sides will work together to reduce the reasons that lead a worker to complain, calling for exploring the root of the problems and find solutions, whether these problems start from the Philippines or Qatar.

Al Marri reviewed some of the legislative developments in Qatar, pointing out that these developments demonstrate the commitment and seriousness towards the improvement of the human rights situation, starting with the issuance of the domestic workers law, which for the first time granted rights to domestic workers after they were excluded from the labor law.

He said that this law stipulated the maximum working hours for domestic workers in a day, and entitled them to a weekly rest day in addition to paid annual leave and end of service benefits.

He added that another law was also issued to abolish exit permits for migrant workers subject to the labor law, whether leaving the country on temporarily basis or for good during the validity of the contract without restrictions, adding that the law promotes and protects the right to freedom of movement and travel.

Referring to the law establishing the labor dispute committee, Al Marri said that this committee issues a ruling within three weeks, while pointing to the issuance of the "Workers' Support and Insurance Fund" to guarantee workers' access to their benefits even in the event of financial incapacity or the bankruptcy of the employer.

Al Marri expressed his pride in signing this agreement to support Filipino workers and employees and their family members, while stressing his confidence that the working conditions in Qatar will always be better.

The agreement provided for the importance of forming a joint committee of five representatives from both parties. The joint committee is responsible for developing specific activities to implement the provisions of the agreement in addition to coordination in its implementation, taking the necessary action and monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the agreement, while the joint committee shall meet once at least annually, and the time and venue of the meeting to be agreed upon by the parties.

The agreement aims at strengthening close relations between the two parties in the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular the rights of workers from the Philippines and their family members in their countries, as well as ensuring communication and exchange of information between the parties, including those concerning workers and their families' complaints or violation of their rights.

The main points of the agreement are to develop public awareness of human rights principles and standards, besides that both parties organize joint training courses, conferences, forums or seminars on international human rights law and other laws relevant to the needs of workers as well as conduct studies or research on topics of interest particularly those affecting migrant workers and trafficked persons.

Meanwhile, a session was held on the sidelines of the signing ceremony in which HE Dr. Ali bin Samikh Al Marri listened to the initiatives of civil society organizations on the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers and their recommendations to national human rights institutions.

The session was attended by the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), the Blas Ople Center, Migrant, the Lawyers Beyond Borders, the regional advocacy initiatives and the Asian migrants forum (Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs). HE Chairman of NHRC explained the role of the committee in promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers and their families in Qatar, highlighting the importance of cooperation with migrants, their families and civil society.

Source: QNA News

Cover photo: Shutterstock