Bid to curb illegal migration for jobs
COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) said
yesterday it had combined forces with the Immigration\ Emigration
Department and Police to counter the spate of malpractices pertaining to
the recruitment of Lankan overseas job seekers.
According to SLBFE sources, a joint bid has been launched which would
be spearheaded by the Bureau to stamp out illegal activities such as
child trafficking, human smuggling, forged documentation to obtain
passports, rogue recruitment agents, illegal migration etc.
During the first 45 days, SLBFE sleuths nabbed 33 offenders and
according to sources a majority had been caught with forged documents.
Law enforcement authorities heeding a request by Foreign Employment
and Welfare Minister Keheliya Rambukwella has taken steps to appoint two
policemen from every police division to exclusively handle such
complaints pertaining to foreign employment and illegal migration.
According to sources, authorities are planning to file cases in a
Court of Law against such offenders for violating the immigration and
SLBFE Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka said yesterday that emphasis would
also be laid on plugging loopholes in the system with effective new laws
and the possible revision of the 1985 Act on Foreign Employment.
Information technology is to play a major role with a comprehensive
data-base system connecting relevant departments to foil abusers from
Sri Lankaís foreign exchange earnings is heavily dependent on migrant
worker remittances which last year stood at 35 per cent.
But the figure is on the rise this year and it stands around 40 per
cent according to latest statistics.
SLBFE recently announced it had recorded an unprecedented 500 per
cent growth in revenue during the first five months this year earning Rs.
212 million in comparison to Rs. 40 million for the same period the
Thus the foreign employment sector over the yearís has become a huge
money spinner especially for private recruitment agents with Sri Lanka
possessing ample personnel who seek greener pastures abroad due to
poverty and lack of employment\knowledge.
Thus over the years culprits, have made this an opportunity to earn
vast sums at the expense of unsuspecting foreign employment seekers
sometimes duping them with false promises an at times forging documents
to obtain travel documents.
The SLBFE recently nabbed six teenaged girls who were to be sent to
the Middle East as house maids using forged documents.
According to Ranawaka, one girl had walked into the SLBFE sub-office
in Maradana describing her plight, as she was to be sent abroad against
her will.Meanwhile, a 14 year old Sri Lankan girl working as a house
maid in Jordan was deported last week by Jordanian authorities, as she
was found to be under age and in possession of forged documents.
The case of teenager Rizana Nafeek, facing execution in Saudi Arabia,
for the alleged murder of an infant, could be considered as a prime
example of the plight of under aged girls sent on false documents
abroad, sources said.
In addition, four teenaged boys had been deported recently by
Singaporean authorities after being found with forged passports
falsifying their age.
According to analysts, this is just the tip of the ice-berg with a
vast majority of such cases passing through undetected which in turn has
had a negative impact on the social fabric since many such teenagers end
up in the wrong hands having to face numerous abuses including forced
prostitution and slavery.
According to sources, several other initiatives are in the offing
with a special training facility for officers, a center to help the
affected and a special detection unit to arrest the situation.
The SLBFE has also set up a special investigation unit to nab rogue
recruitment agents and has also proposed stiff penalties for licensed
agents who engage in malpractices.
According to a recent US survey, Sri Lanka has been identified as
possessing all ingredients necessary for human trafficking, but
according to local authorities the situation is not that alarming like
some Asian countries, but effective measures are needed before the issue
gets out of hand.