Jordan: Local companies sending foreign workers to Iraq against their will

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Jan 27 2009

This is not the first time we become aware of foreign workers in Jordan who are being illegally sent to Iraq regardless of their contracts and what they initially signed up for. Last September, we published an article by IRIN News stating the following:

Companies in Jordan are accused of using the country as a transit point to forcefully send Asian workers to Iraq following the outbreak of war in 2003.

Some workers were allegedly lured to the kingdom with contracts in industrial zone areas and construction sectors, before they were shipped to Iraq, mostly against their wishes.

Unfortunately, not much has changed since then, and only now is legal action being taken, according to today's IRIN News, one of the few sources following the development of this case:

AMMAN, 27 January 2009 (IRIN) - The Jordanian parliament has endorsed legislation to combat human trafficking in light of international complaints that local companies are sending foreign workers to Iraq against their will.

The law, endorsed on 25 January, paves the way for the creation of an anti-human trafficking commission to oversee its implementation. The commission will be affiliated to the Ministry of Labour and will include officials from the police and Ministry of Justice.

[...]

Labour leaders said on 26 January that forced labour was also widespread in factories across Jordan. Fathallah Emrani, president of the Jordan Federation of Textile Industry Workers, said the law could contribute to improving working conditions for thousands of foreign workers, particularly in Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ), which have been subjected to various types of abuse.

"Here in Jordan many workers are subjected to slavery-like working conditions including beatings, prolonged working hours, work without payment or insufficient payment," Emrani told IRIN.

He said awareness campaigns should be launched to educate employers on how to deal with workers.

Read the rest of the article here.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East