Lax law to blame for migrant woes: Report

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Jun 12, 2014-

Only a few Nepali migrant workers receive compensation for deceit and abuses they undergo during recruitment process and employment period, a recent report has said.   

The report on “Migrant Workers’ Access to Justice at Home: Nepal” published on June 9 by the researchers at the Centre for the Study of Labour and Mobility, UNSW Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, ascribes unchecked maltreatment against migrant workers to ineffective implementation of the laws on foreign employment.   

Women and illegal migrant workers are more vulnerable to get swindled and abused because they have lower awareness of their rights, creating various obstacles for them while seeking justice, the report says.

Every year, more than 400,000 Nepalis visit abroad, primarily to the Middle East, as migrant labourers. And for most, the trouble begins right from the home. They are cheated by their employment agents who often charge exorbitant fees for their services, delay the process of recruitment, and hand fake documents to foreign job-aspirants.

Sabitri Rimal (name changed), a former migrant worker, was forced to work for up to 23 hours a day without any meal break. Her predicament was aggravated by her employer’s abusive nature. No one heard her complaints, not even her agent.  

 “The Nepali agents sold us for a large sum of money,” says Rimal of the travails faced by herself and many other Nepalis at the hands of their employers on foreign countries.  

Bandita Sijapati, the co-author of the report, says with all the emphasis on the Gulf countries, we tend to forget that the troubles for migrant workers start and end at home. “Nepal has a responsibility to not only prevent rights violations, but also protect the workers whose rights have been violated,” she says.

Ganesh Gurung, an expert on the subject of labour migration, emphasises the need of offering counselling services for foreign jobseekers to reduce the instances of employment agencies cheating their clients. “Enforcing strict law of payment transparency between employment agencies and their clients is also very important,’ he says.

Improving access to justice is crucial to ensure  that migrant workers receive

compensation for the harms suffered, says Bassina Farbenblum, co-author of the report.

“Workers should not be greeted by cycles of debt and poverty on their return. Increasing access to justice will also end impunity among disreputable manpower agencies and individual agents who profit from deceiving Nepali migrant workers.”

Published: 13-06-2014 10:03

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