Illegals wait for amnesty

By: Kabeer Yousuf

MUSCAT: Several thousands of expatriates who have been staying in Oman illegally will be leaving the country once the general amnesty is declared, according to various diplomatic quarters.

The State Council had recently reviewed the report submitted by a panel tasked with studying the legislation regulating expatriate manpower in the country, and stressed the need to tackle violations by expat workforce as early as possible before it gets more complicated.

Embassies of various Asian countries hoped that those who have been living in the country with no valid document would be making use of this amnesty and fly out to their countries.

“More than 3,000 Pakistanis who are residing in Oman without any valid residential documents will be benefiting if there is a general amnesty in the offing”, Naheed Naveed Atif, Deputy Head of Mission at the Pakistan Embassy, told the Observer.

Embassies of other South Asian countries too are expecting a similar or more or less numbers to make use of the highly expected amnesty.

“We are expecting a large number of illegal immigrants to leave the country, but we wouldn’t be in a position to have any statistics of those who will make use of the amnesty”, a source at the Indian Embassy said, adding, “As illegals are caught by the authorities and repatriated from time to time, their number would be elusive”.

Meanwhile, social workers are getting ready and have already started collating necessary documentation and logistics as well as legal formalities to help the illegals to avail of the amnesy.

P M Jabir, Community Welfare Secretary, Indian Social Club, Muscat, says there could be more than 7,000 Indians this time around, although there could be more from other Asian countries according to statistics.

“There could be more than 7,000 Indians based on the data and statistics we have and with our interaction with the public who are facing legal issues. During earlier amnesties, the Indian Embassy had successfully utilised the assistance of hundreds of volunteers. This has ensured smooth preparation of all necessary documents.

“Although the modalities are not yet worked out, it is quite obvious that such assistance is required from the diaspora this time also. Since it is a common cause, we are ready to provide any number of volunteers and any type of service the embassy might require.”

Abdulqadir bin Salim al Thahab, chairman of the committee tasked with studying the issue of illegal expat workforce, said the issue of absconding workers is a complicated issue partly due to lack of reliable statistics and difficulty in finding precise data.

In its study, the committee concluded that legislations governing expat workforce are adequate and that there is no need for amendments or changes to the law itself, but better ways for proper enforcement of the law should be found to bring the labour market back to the state targeted by the legislation, the study said. The study also recommended to amend the Commercial Registration Law as to the articles concerning the recruitment of expatriate workforce. That law was enforced in 1974 and hasn’t been amended since.


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