The Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) has raised concerns over the mistreatment of Kenyans in Saudi Arabia.
In a letter to the he Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection Simon Chelugui, the Ombudsman chairperson Florence Kajuju has expressed concern over the inhumane tratment of Kenyan workers in the oil-rich Gulf states.
“Attempts by victims and their families to persue justice are also alleged to be frustrated by cover up of the true state of affairs in Saudi Arabia,” she said.
She asked him to clearly indicate his position on the matter and the ‘steps taken if any, or intended actions and time-frames,’
The Commission noted that the backdrop of high unemployment in the country has continued to lure Kenyans to the Gulf countries for greener pastures.
“We look forward to hearing from you with a view to remedy lapses in the administration of migratory labour,” Kajuju said.
On the rogue recruitment agencies, she wrote to the National Employment Authority asking the status of regulation of private employment agencies sending Kenyan workers to Saudi Arabia.
Section 8 of the Commission on Administrative Justice Act, 2011 mandates the Commission to look into complaints on maladministration including delay, ineptitude among others.
In a busy recruitment agency in Nairobi’s central business district, dozens of women line the halls all hoping that they will secure a job as a domestic worker in the Gulf states, cooking, cleaning and caring for another family thousands of miles from their own homes.
However, when they get there, there are reports of workers being raped and tortured across the region and haunting videos of Kenyan women pleading for help after allegedly being abused by their employers.
Underpinning this abuse is the kafala system which prevents migrant workers from changing jobs without their employer’s consent.
It can mean that women who face abuse at the hands of their employers are left trapped and facing arrest if they try to flee.
The region is the most dangerous place in the world to find work for migrant domestic workers such as Mbogo.
The Gulf has long been notorious for labour trafficking, with the 2.5 million-strong domestic workforce particularly vulnerable to wide spread physical and sexual abuse and having their passports and salaries withheld by employers.
In 2019, the government introduced measures to mitigate the risk of abuse.
The new measures stated that if a Kenyan woman is abused, agencies must help them leave, with the cost of their rescue coming out of a Sh1.5 million (£11,000) bond that the agent has to pay to operate.
The government also negotiated an agreement with Saudi Arabia to enforce a minimum monthly wage of Sh40,000 (£300), as well as food and housing.