By Michael Oche
Workers Unions in Africa under the umbrella of the Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) have condemned in strong terms what they described as acts of dehumanization meted out by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against over 700 African migrants legally working in the UAE.
The ITUC-Africa in a statement issued on Sunday by its general secretary, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, said African organised workers are angry and offended to learn that the actions by the UAE authorities against Black African migrants were orchestrated simply because of their skin colour.
The regional workers body accused the UAE authorities of using excessive force, including stun guns, beatings, and also sexually exploited and harassed women, by among other things, touching their bodies inappropriately
“Further, it is disheartening and unacceptable to note that all the manhandled African migrants possessed all the necessary, legitimate and valid documents to live and work in the UAE,” it said in the statement.
Adu-Amankwah urged African government to take swift, firm and effective actions to make the UAE account for these infractions against the African workers, adding that the ITUC-Africa finds it unacceptable that efforts by the victims to get their national governments, embassies and immigration officials to assist them in redressing the abuses they suffered have not been fruitful.
The statement reads further, “ITUC-Africa, therefore, calls on the African Union Commission and African governments, as well as the members of the international human rights defenders’ community to also condemn these racist and hate attacks against these over 700 African labour migrants by the UAE.
“We also call on them to take swift, firm and effective actions to make the UAE account for these egregious infractions against the African workers. In specific terms, we urge the AU to lead the charge in the demand for commensurate and timely redress, including measured compensation for the victims.
“We also call on the government of the UAE to take timely and genuine steps to progressively reform its Kafala system that lacks protection provisions for labour migrants, restricts their rights and exposes them to exploitation and discrimination. The Kafala system is contributing to the intensification of the perpetuation of racism, especially against Africans. The UAE must emulate Qatar that has successfully reformed its Kafala system and practices in a collaborative, broad and inclusive manner.”
Recall that a recent report had exposed a well coordinated mass arrests of migrants of African origin by the UAE authorities. The report also highlighted how the victims were sexually harassed and their rights violated while in detention.
The migrants were denied access to medical and legal assistance whilst in detention. They were subsequently deported after long illegal incarceration with their personal belongings contiscated.