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NCCHT hosts virtual roundtable consultation with partner embassies and UN partners
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 31 - 03 - 2021

The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) hosted a virtual roundtable with the International Organization Migration (IOM), UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and 13 foreign embassies to the Kingdom (Bangladesh, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nepal, Philippines, Uganda, the UK, and the US).
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) President and the Chair of the NCCHT Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad opened the event by highlighting some of the many achievements in promoting foreign workers' rights and countering trafficking over the past year, while inviting guest embassies to share their experiences and those of their nationals.
According to Dr. Al-Awwad, "In counter-trafficking, we refer to the four Ps: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnerships. It is partnerships, which bring us here today. Although the current global challenges prevent us from meeting face to face to share ideas and exchange best practices, I am happy this conversation can continue virtually. We look forward to maintaining this momentum and continuously enhancing our performance for the years to come."
The Bangladesh Ambassador Dr. Mohammad Javed Patwary, stated that, "Saudi Arabia has been a major destination for foreign workers, both skilled and semi-skilled, who have contributed vastly to the economy of the country" and that, "We are highly appreciative of all the efforts made by the kingdom and the significant breakthroughs especially with establishing the NRM."
Mohamed El Zarkani, chief of mission at IOM Bahrain, shared some of the tripartite success stories between Saudi, foreign embassies, and IOM: "Now is the time to think ahead and close the gap of the criminal networks that drive trafficking across the globe and the only way we can do that is by continuing to partner in ways such as this. Through coming together to share experiences and perspectives, we can work together to tackle the issue from multiple angles."
El Zarkani also conveyed the remarks of the UN Resident Coordinator for Saudi, Nathalie Fustier, who expressed appreciation for "the dedication of the Government of Saudi Arabia led by the Human Rights Commission, in setting in motion a series of significant initiatives and reforms, amidst a challenging year, in honour of the fight against trafficking in persons."
Meanwhile, Judge Hatem Aly, UNODC representative for the GCC Region, commended the Kingdom on its "sincere straightforward partnership with the diplomatic community" and further highlighted: "This embassy roundtable discussion is a concrete illustration of the major reform that the Kingdom has committed to in relation to combating trafficking in persons and protecting and assisting victims of trafficking."
Sattam Al-Harbi, NCCHT committee member and deputy minister for inspection and the work environment at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, focused on one particularly important reform the past year: The Labor Reform Initiative to enhance the contractual relationship between workers and employers, which allows for more job mobility and improves workers ability to exit and re-enter the country.
Sarah Al-Tamimi, vice-chair of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking and deputy president for international cooperation at the Human Rights Commission, discussed some of the most important achievements of the Kingdom in the past year, including the training of more than 2,500 officials, civil society members, and members of the private sector over past year.
She also discussed the development of a Victims Assistance Fund; the signing of an MOU between HRC and the National Committee for Workers' Committees; and the incorporation of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health into the national anti-trafficking committee.
She also mentioned plans for the future including the establishment of a standalone trafficking shelter and the expansion of the training programs to include frontline medical staff. — SG

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