2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Oman

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working:Unavailable
Minimum age for admission to work:153170
Age to which education is compulsory:Not compulsory3171
Free public education:Yes3172
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:87%3173
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:78%3174
Percent of children 5-14 attending school:Unavailable
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:98%3175
Ratified Convention 138:7/21/20053176
Ratified Convention 182:6/11/20013177
ILO-IPEC participating country:No3178

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Oman work in family businesses, as well as in informal occupations such as agriculture, fishing, cleaning, and delivering messages and other goods. Bedouin children participate in camel racing as part of their cultural heritage, but there are no substantiated reports of foreign children trafficked to work as camel jockeys or for other purposes. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child does not consider the use of child camel jockeys, as practiced in Oman, an issue of concern.3179

It is difficult to ascertain whether any child prostitution, pornography, or trafficking exists in Oman, because of lack of data. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has noted that a large number of migrant workers enter Oman each year, thus increasing the likelihood that trafficked children may be among them. The Committee has recommended that the government conduct in-depth studies on the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.3180

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age of employment in Oman is 15 years. Minors 15 to 18 years are permitted to work up to 6 hours per day, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., but they may not work overtime or work on holidays or rest days.3181 Workplaces that employ minors are required to post certain items for display, including a copy of the provisions of the law regulating the employment of children; an updated log with the names of minors employed in the workplace with their ages and dates of employment; and a work schedule showing work hours, rest periods, and weekly holidays.3182 In July 2006, a royal decree increased the maximum prison term from 1 week to 1 month for employers who repeatedly use child labor.3183 The minimum legal age to work as a camel jockey is being increased gradually from 14 until it reaches 18 in 2009.3184

Forced labor by children is prohibited by law.3185 The crime of inciting a minor under 18 years into prostitution is punishable by not less than 5 years of imprisonment.3186 Child pornography is not explicitly outlawed, but the production, possession, or distribution of pornographic material is punishable by up to 1 year of imprisonment.3187 There is no specific legal provision prohibiting trafficking in persons;3188 however, the crime of enslaving a person carries a prison sentence of between 5 and 15 years.3189 Similarly, the crimes of receiving, possessing, acquiring, maintaining, or causing a person to enter or exit Oman in a state of servitude or slavery are punishable by 3 to 5 years of imprisonment.3190 It is illegal to engage a minor under age 18 in illicit activities such as drug production or trafficking, or any other activity linked with narcotic drugs; such offenses are punishable by the death penalty.3191 The minimum age for voluntary military recruitment is 18.3192

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws, and the U.S. Department of State reports that enforcement is generally sufficient. However, enforcement does not always extend to small family businesses, especially those engaged in agriculture and fishing.3193 The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has recommended that the Government of Oman strengthen its labor inspectorate in order to better monitor the extent of child labor in both the formal and informal sectors.3194 In practice, most employers ask each prospective employee for a certificate indicating that he or she has completed basic education through grade 10. Considering that children usually begin their basic education at age 6, this means that workers, in most cases, will be age 16 when they begin work.3195 Registration with the Omani Camel Racing Federation and submission of a passport, photograph, and birth certificate confirming compliance with minimum age laws is required of all persons seeking work as camel jockeys.3196

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In March 2006, the Governments of Oman and Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding to increase cooperation in combating organized crime and trafficking in persons.3197 Oman has also entered into bilateral and multilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia, India, and the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council aimed at combating various forms of child sexual exploitation.3198 The government operates a 24-hour hotline to allow citizens to report claims of labor abuses,3199 including trafficking.3200

3170 Government of Oman, Royal Decree No. 35/2003: Oman Labour Law, (May 3, 2003).

3171 U.S. Department of State, "Oman," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78860.htm.

3172 U.S. Embassy – Muscat, reporting, December 20, 2006.

3173 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

3174 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

3175 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

3176 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 19, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm.

3177 Ibid.

3178 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006, 29; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20061018_Implementati….

3179 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Oman." See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted Under Article 44 of the Convention: Periodic Reports of States Parties due in 2004: Oman, Geneva, May 8, 2006, paras 493, 494, and 495; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/5f413… ILE/G0641883.DOC.

3180 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Concluding Observations: Oman, CRC/C/OMN/CO/2, Geneva, September 29, 2006, 14, 15; available from http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/co/CRC_C_OMN_CO_2.pdf. See also United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns, Vienna, 2006, 19-20; available from http://www.unodc.org/pdf/traffickinginpersons_report_2006ver2.pdf.

3181 Government of Oman, Oman Labour Law, Articles 75-77.

3182 Ibid., Article 78.

3183 U.S. Embassy – Muscat, reporting, November 7, 2006.

3184 U.S. Embassy – Muscat, reporting, December 20, 2006.

3185 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Oman," Section 6d.

3186 Government of Oman, Penal Code, Article 220; available from http://www.interpol.int/public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaOma….

3187 Ibid., Articles 34 and 224.

3188 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Oman," Section 5.

3189 U.S. Department of State, "Oman (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Oman, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65989.htm.

3190 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 (No. 138), Oman (ratification: 2001), [online] 2004 [cited November 2, 2006]; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/appl-displayAl….

3191 Ibid.

3192 CIA, World Factbook: Oman, [online] May 17, 2005 [cited October 18, 2006]; available from https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2024.html.

3193 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Oman," Section 6d.

3194 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Oman, 14.

3195 U.S. Embassy – Muscat, reporting, August 23, 2004.

3196 U.S. Department of State, "Oman (Tier 2 Watch List)."

3197 U.S. Department of State official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 14, 2006.

3198 ILO Committee of Experts, ILO Direct Request: Oman.

3199 US Embassy – Muscat official, E-mail communication USDOL official, July 25, 2007.

3200 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Oman," Section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Oman (Tier 2 Watch List)."


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