KATHMANDU, NOV 18 - The government failure to punish over 86 ‘human traffickers’ disguised as foreign employment agents has raised question about its willingness to combat the thriving human trafficking. As a result of this, many potential women migrant workers are at risk of being trafficked to Gulf countries.
Identities of the human traffickers were traced by Nepal’s mission in Saudi Arabia while interrogating the victimised women workers whom it had rescued this year. The Post has learnt that the agents, working in collusion with their Indian aides, have been repeatedly sending women migrant workers to the Gulf, mainly via India.
The embassy has forwarded a list of the ‘traffickers’ to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE), recommending legal action against them. “We sent a written recommendation to the MoFA and the MoLE some three months ago, calling for action against the culprit,” said Udaya Raj Pandey, Nepal’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Those people whose names figure in the list are taking women to Saudi Arabia illegally, he said. Despite this, the concerned bodies, neither the MoFA nor the MoLE, have not initiated any legal process to book the guilty.
The Labour Ministry has, however, a different story to tell. “We have not received such list from any embassy. They might have sent it to the MoFA. We will take action provided that we receive such requests that fall under our jurisdiction,” said Som Lal Subedi, MoLE secretary.
When asked, the MoFA’s Consular Section said it receives a raft of letters everyday and officials could have missed out those. “I will confirm whether or not we have received the letters and take an immediate action,” said Dilip Poudel, chief of the Consular Section.
Embassy officials say it is high time for the government to tighten the net around human traffickers. Trafficking of women migrant workers can be reduced to a large extent if these agents get due punishment, said Pandey.
Unlike in other gulf countries where women above 30 are permitted to go for domestic work, Nepal’s mission in Saudi has barred Nepali female workers from entering this country. However, the trans-national human trafficking network is so active that an estimated 70,000 Nepali women have been smuggled to Saudi Arabia alone.
As the existing Saudi law forbids the third person to enter into private houses and the immigration authorities there do not disclose the exact number of women workers, the Nepali embassy is clueless about the total number of Nepali women entering the country on a daily basis.
Since the Kafala (sponsorship) system practiced in Saudi Arabia and some other Islamic nations (that fully authorises employers to dominate over employees), migrant workers are always exposed to higher risks. What is more appaling is the fact that workers either living or dead should acquire the permission of employers to get exist visa.
Embassy officials and various rights groups say the Kafala system is to blame for the severe mental, physical and economic exploitations that workers face.
An official record of the last 15 months shows that a total of 433 victimised women were rescued from various parts of Saudi Arabia upon their requests. No matter how much inhumane treatment the workers suffer, the embassy could not seek any legal recourse due to their illegal status. “All we could do is provide them with their passports and return air tickets. The mission can do nothing more,” Pandey said.
Posted on: 2012-11-19 08:55