Browsing 'indonesia' News

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Meento

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Plans are reportedly underway to hire 10,000 skilled and semi-skilled Indonesian workers to work in Qatar, according to the country’s new ambassador in Doha.

The agreement to open up more positions for Indonesian professionals and craftspeople follows a visit by President Joko Widodo to Qatar in September.

The move would significantly increase the 50,000 strong Indonesian population currently living and working in Qatar, Qatar Tribune reported.

No timeline has been given for when the new arrangements might start or which roles would be included, and the Indonesian Embassy in Qatar was not available for comment.

Other decisions

The agreement follows the enforcement late last year of a ban of all Indonesians from working as domestic staff in Qatar and the wider region, which was announced in early 2015 by Widodo.

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Dimitris Papazimouris/Flickr

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The ban, which stopped new workers from traveling abroad as domestic staff, was introduced to preserve the “pride and dignity” of the country’s citizens, Widodo said.

Speaking to the Qatar Tribune this week, the new Indonesian ambassador to Qatar Muhammad Basri Sidehabi said a number of new deals between the two states are ongoing.

Some have been in negotiations for years, said Sidehabi, who was officially appointed on Feb. 14.

This reportedly includes a request by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) from 2011 to acquire 20,000 hectares of land in Indonesia to grow rice.

Rice plantation Indonesia - for illustrative purposes only

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Rice plantation Indonesia for illustrative purposes only

Widodo had already requested this agreement be accelerated, the Qatar-based diplomat added.

As a state that imports more than 90 percent of its foodstuffs, improving food security is one of Qatar’s priorities and the QIA has numerous international agreements aimed at diversifying where the country sources its food from in the coming years.

Opening up the Qatari market, as well as other states in the Middle East, to the import of Indonesian coffee is another priority for his country, Sidehabi added.

More flights

Meanwhile, negotiations are ongoing to increase the number of Indonesian destinations for national flag carrier Qatar Airways.

While the airline currently flies to three  two locations in the country – the capital Jakarta and Bali Denpasar and Surabaya – it had initially asked for seven destinations, Sidehabi reportedly said.

The diplomat said he was discussing with Widodo about expanding this list to five destinations, with the addition of Medan in North Sumatra and Makassar on the island of Sulawesi.

Thoughts?

Note: This story has been edited to reflect that Qatar Airways currently flies to two destinations in Indonesia, not three as previously reported.

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The Indonesian government wants all of its citizens working as domestic workers in the Gulf and several other countries to return home within two years, according to a media report.

The Muscat Daily reports that officials in Jakarta are preparing a “roadmap” to end the practice of women from the southeast Asian country working abroad as maids, nannies and cleaners by 2017.

An unnamed Indonesian diplomat in Oman was quoted as saying:

“The step was taken to provide better protection for Indonesian migrant workers since there have been numerous cases where those who work as domestic workers are being abused or underpaid. This calls for better protection of our workers.”

The 2017 deadline follows a ban announced earlier this year on Indonesian women moving abroad for jobs as domestic workers in nearly two dozen nations: Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Egypt, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Jordan.

At the time, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the measure was necessary to preserve the “pride and dignity” of the country’s citizens.

‘Black market’

Since then, there has been little information released about how the ban would be implemented and how it would affect the approximately 20,000 Indonesian domestic workers estimated to be working in Qatar.

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Dimitris Papazimouris/Flickr

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The Indonesian embassy in Doha declined to comment about the issue today.

Though the Muscat-based diplomat did not discuss how the measures would be enforced, the newspaper reported that incentives – such as offering loans to help workers return to their country or even start businesses in Indonesia – were under consideration.

However, some have expressed concerns that the ban was unrealistic and would create a black market of sorts for Indonesian women working as domestic workers in the Middle East.

In a recent opinion piece for Okaz, Saudi Arabian professor Ibrahim Ismail Kutbi said of the ban:

“What worries me is that the inability to meet employment needs of Saudi families will open the door to the black market and a bidding war will start. I don’t know how the ministry will solve such a complicated case torn between lack of recruitment options, the demand pressure and the violations that will spread so quickly in the worker’s black market.

Recruitment offices will also be affected by Indonesia’s decision, but they have their illegal ways to manage.”

Abuse concerns

This is not the first time Indonesia has attempted to block its citizens from working as domestic workers in the region.

The country temporarily banned its nationals from coming to Qatar as domestic workers in 2013, saying it could not afford to assist the three to five women who were seeking shelter at the embassy daily.

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Amnesty International

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Domestic workers in Qatar are vulnerable in part because they are not protected under the country’s labor law. There is no legal restriction on the maximum number of days a week or hours each day they can work.

Additionally, women who flee abusive situations here risk being caught by police. Labeled as “runaways,” they are then held in detention centers for months at a time while they await deportation.

Amnesty International’s 2014 report “My sleep is my break,” details cases of physical, psychological and sometimes sexual abuse inflicted on domestic workers by expat and local sponsors in Qatar.

One particularly brutal case of an Indonesian woman working in Qatar who was hospitalized for several days with injuries she said were inflicted by her employer drew outrage earlier this year.

The woman has since returned to her country and a court case is pending against her sponsor.

Thoughts?

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Meento

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A 25-year-old woman working as house help in Qatar has returned to her home country of Indonesia after being badly beaten by her sponsor here and hospitalized for several days.

However, her departure only came after the woman was held for weeks in Qatar’s Search and Follow-Up Department, which is a detention center for expats awaiting deportation.

Indonesian domestic helper

Supplied

Victim says thank you

According to sources who spoke to Doha News, the woman said she “forgave” her sponsor, whose assault left her with a broken wrist, a gash on her skull requiring six stitches and numerous bruises and scars.

Through a friend, the woman sent a photo of herself this week holding a small sign thanking the Indonesian community and members of the Facebook group “When, Where and How in Doha” – where her story first came to light – for their support.

Last month, the woman’s case sparked outrage online as well as donation drive that raised some QR30,000, as well as clothes and toiletries for the woman.

Government documents shown to Doha News suggest the woman received QR8,500 for seven months of previously unpaid back wages and to cover the cost of her plane ticket home.

Questions remain

In April, the woman spoke to Doha News while she was recovering from her injuries at Hamad Hospital. She said she had been abused for nearly two years and fled her employer’s home after being beaten with the metal end of a hose used to siphon water.

Despite being in the hospital for three days, the woman said she had not been interviewed by police officers about the assault.

Bruises on the victim.

Chantelle D'mello

Bruises on the victim.

An embassy official, who could not be reached today, previously said authorities were following the case, but it remains unclear if an official investigation was ever launched.

However, because the victim is not pressing charges, any form of criminal prosecution is unlikely.

Human rights organization Amnesty International has previously said that complaints by domestic workers in Qatar of assaults rarely result in criminal convictions.

One reason for this may be because those who flee abusive employers can find themselves arrested and detained on so-called “absconding” charges in violation of Qatar’s sponsorship law.

Systematic problems

In a 2014 report on domestic workers in Qatar, Amnesty said the most common punishment in such cases was detention followed by deportation.

This policy was criticized by a UN envoy who visited Qatar in 2013, who said that such detention amounted to a violation of these women’s rights. For its part, Amnesty has called for “absconding” to be decriminalized.

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Stephan Geyer/Flickr

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The human rights organization said it was told by deportation center officials that detainees who make complaints of physical or sexual abuse are transferred to the Qatar Foundation for Combating Human Trafficking or the hospital psychiatric unit for the appropriate support.

However, it also cited a Ministry of Interior official who appeared to have limited sympathy for domestic workers who have fled their employers. He told Amnesty that most women who flee to new employers are trying to earn higher salaries, rather than attempting to escape abuse.

François Crépeau

Peter Kovessy

François Crépeau

That’s at odds with the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, which stated that most women who were being held pending deportation had left their employers due to poor working conditions.

The vulnerability of domestic workers here is one reason why earlier this month, the Indonesian government announced that it would ban its nationals from working as domestic help in Qatar and 20 other countries in the Middle East.

The move, to protect “human values and the dignity of the nation,” is expected to come into effect in three months, and is being imposed on any new workers applying for employment overseas. Indonesians already working abroad would not be affected.

During his announcement, Indonesia’s Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri said that “the hard policy” was being implemented in countries where the rights of employers outweigh labor policies and protections for the domestic worker.

Qatar is home to around 20,000 Indonesians working in domestic roles, Amnesty International said last year, citing 2010 census data.

Thoughts?