Nepal govt failed to curb illegal recruitment fees, says Amnesty Int’l

  • international migration day
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 19, 2017-The Nepal government’s failure to crack down on the recruiting agencies charging illegal fees for jobs abroad is leaving migrant workers trapped in a vicious cycle of debt and exploitation, the Amnesty International has said.

In a statement on Monday that marks International Migration Day, the London-based human rights watchdog has said that almost two-thirds of Nepali migrant workers who responded to a survey, carried out in Nepal and Malaysia, had paid excessive, illegal recruitment fees.

“Nepali migrant workers are being systematically and mercilessly set up. Forced to take out loans to pay the huge fees recruitment agencies charge them to work abroad, they are left so indebted that they have no choice but to stay in jobs which often turn out to be low-paid or dangerous,” said James Lynch, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Global Issues Programme in the statement.

“The Nepali government’s weak enforcement of the law is playing straight into the hands of extortionists and loan sharks,” Lynch added, “migrant workers all too often end up trapped in the soul-destroying situation of working abroad for years simply to pay off the huge, often illegal fees they were charged to take the job”. 

The vast majority of about 88 percent of participants in the AI’s mobile phone survey of 414 Nepali migrant workers reported that they paid fees to agents for their jobs overseas. Because these fees are so high, the majority had to borrow more than half the sum from village moneylenders, placing them in debt. More than half of the workers (53 percent) surveyed said that they received lower monthly salaries than what was promised to them by recruitment agents, the statement read. 

In July 2015 the Nepali government introduced the ‘free-visa-free-ticket’ policy, which reduced the maximum fee workers could be charged to Rs10,000 ($96) in response to local and international pressure. But the policy is clearly not being properly enforced. The AI found that recruitment agencies were still freely exploiting migrants by charging above the limit. Only a fifth of the workers surveyed by the AI said the government was implementing the policy.

The new survey adds to this picture of country-wide exploitation, which is flourishing under an often indifferent government. Recruitment agencies who charge illegal fees often go to great lengths to evade scrutiny, including sending middlemen to collect the money rather than receiving it directly themselves, the statement added. The AI survey found that 90 percent of workers, who had paid a recruitment fee, did not receive an accurate receipt from agents. “This makes it very difficult for them to file legal cases against unscrupulous agents and claim this money back,” the watchdog said in the statement, urging the Nepal government and businesses to do more to tackle the corruption that is rampant in the recruitment industry in Nepal.

Published: 19-12-2017 07:51

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