Imagine being jobless, facing a huge debt and travel ban. This was the case of a 43-year-old Filipina expat in the UAE — one of several cases that were recently resolved by the Human Rights Section of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), the Khaleej Times reported.
The head of the Human Rights Section at ADJD, Fatma Abdulrahim Obaid, stated that during the first half of 2018, they resolved 23 cases of workers with various problems. These issues include work bans from employers, absconding cases, incurred debts, and other legal matters.
UAE Gov’t Helps Pinay Expat Get New Lease on Life
According to Obaid, the 43-year-old Filipina expat came to their office crying, saying that she had been stuck in the UAE for eight years without a job. The woman had served jail time over a bounced check worth AED 190,000, and was facing a travel ban as she couldn’t pay her debt. And since her visa had expired for many years now, she was also staying illegally in the country.
Just one day after hearing the woman’s case, the Human Rights Section arranged to have her name cleared at the immigration office and her arrest warrant removed temporarily. Through the ongoing UAE amnesty program, they helped her acquire a temporary residence visa. This gives her six months to stay legally in the country, look for a new job, and eventually pay off her debt.
Protecting the Rights of Vulnerable Workers
Aside from providing direct assistance, the ADJD has launched other initiatives to protect workers’ rights. The head of the Abu Dhabi Labour Court, Chief Justice Abdullah Faris Ali Al Nuami, talked about these initiatives, which include:
- Field visits to workers’ accommodations;
- Workshops on the UAE Labour Law and workers’ rights;
- Mobile court that handles cases of workers living in one area;
- One-day Labour Court that addresses cases not exceeding AED 20,000; and
- Website system that enables workers to calculate their end-of-service gratuity.
Likewise, the legal consultant at ADJD, Benjimin Burger, said that they will soon launch the “Happiness Card” — a support card for travel and basic expenses of vulnerable workers with ongoing cases. They have also made arrangements with the Emirates Red Crescent, regarding the provision of financial assistance to workers in need.
Indeed, programs such as these are a big help to expats facing financial and legal problems in the UAE. Through these initiatives, they are given new opportunities. More importantly, they can be filled with the hope they need to turn their situation around and aspire for a better future!