Labour Export: MPs Report Denial of Visas to Saudi Arabia

Members of Parliament’s Gender Committee have reported that they were denied visas to Saudi Arabia, where they sought to benchmark on externalization of labour and the related challenges.

The issue came up during the Wednesday plenary sitting after a communication from the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among indicating that she had held a meeting with the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, Jamal Mohammed Hassan Al-Madani.

“I met with the Ambassador of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we discussed a number of issues of mutual interest between Uganda and Saudi Arabia. They had an agreement already with the late Speaker to have a working MOU between Parliament and the Parliament of Saudi Arabia and we are going to continue with that,” Among communicated in part.

She further told MPs that she had raised the issue of Ugandan workers in Saudi Arabia and the Ambassador said that he had held a discussion with the Minister of Gender. Among wondered why the Minister had not yet reported to the House on what had transpired and the outcome of their meeting.

Following her communication, a section of MPs reacted on the continued mistreatment of Ugandan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.

“There was a petition by migrant workers and this petition is before the committee of Gender. I have been receiving complaints over this matter as the chairperson Uganda Parliamentary Women Association (UWOPA) that the petition which contains their grievances be handled. One of the issues raised is that some of the officials in Ministry of Gender who are supposed to handle the matter are related to some of the people who own these companies,” said Sarah Opendi, the Tororo Woman MP.

She asked the Speaker to direct the Committee on Gender to conclude with the petition that was filed last year and present a report to parliament.

In response, Dorcas Acen, the Alebtong Woman MP reported that they had a report but Members of the Gender Committee who were supposed to travel to Saudi Arabia were denied visas. She appealed for the intervention of the Speaker’s office to help the committee get the necessary information regarding the issue.

Sarah Najjuma, the Gender Committee Vice Chairperson also confirmed to the House that MPs had been denied visas to go and benchmark in Saudi Arabia and apologized for the delayed presentation of the report to Parliament. Among indicated that she had discussed the issue of visas with the Ambassador and that it shouldn’t be a problem.

“Tomorrow, we can process that and the committee will be able to go and get further information,” the Speaker said.

However, Among questioned why the Committee leadership had not formally sought for an extension of time to conclude its work after the 45 days stipulated under the rules of procedure had elapsed.

“When you got the challenge of the visas, you ought to have come back to the House formally and report and seek for an extension. Write and seek for an extension of time,” she directed. Among also demanded that the Minister of Gender presents a report on how labor companies are licensed and the directors behind them.

“Even most of them don’t have capacity….when someone dies there, they can’t even bring back the body. We want to know the criteria used to give these people licenses,” Among said.

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