MANILA- The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and its Qatari counterpart, the National Human Rights Committee, signed Wednesday a cooperation agreement for the protection of rights of its citizens in both countries.
The agreement covers 10 areas of cooperation including protection mechanisms for Filipino workers in the handling and referring of their cases to proper institutions.
CHR chair Luis Gascon said the agreement will advance the interests of some 250,000 Filipino workers in Qatar.
“We might be able to explore ways of cooperation so that both our commissions will be able to advance our respective mandates,” Gascon said.
According to NHRC President Dr. Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri, the agreement will help ensure that human rights are observed.
Al Marri said they were able to work on the removal of the exit permit requirement imposed on Filipinos before leaving Qatar.
He said workers who have concerns with their employers can either go to their office or provide them information through their website and hotline.
“Migrant workers can directly come to us,” Al Marri said.
CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel reiterated that Filipinos should still rely on the Philippine embassy in Doha as the agreement is just an additional mechanism for access to justice and information.
“If you have a state institution in that part of the country advocating for the rights of your workers, then you can be assured that it is going to be addressed,” Pimentel said.
In the agreement, the Philippines also pledged for the protection of the rights of Qatari nationals who are in the Philippines.
The agreement has an initial term of 3 years, subject to renewal by consent of both parties.