Moves to secure rights of Lankan migrant workers
Discussions are underway between the External Affairs Ministry and
Foreign Employment Ministry to strengthen and promote the human rights
of Sri Lankan migrant workers through comprehensive bilateral action
plans and improved immigration procedures, External Affairs Ministry
Secretary Karunathilaka Amunugama said.
He said measures are being taken to streamline the recruitment
process of migrant workers, said Amunugama.
The beheading of Rizana Nafeeq has clearly given new impetus to
enforce new laws and action plans to protect Sri Lankan women migrant
workers, Amunugama said.
Rizana’s execution has stirred anger in Sri Lanka and beyond.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ahmed
Aflal Jawad, who was recalled by the government following Rizana’s
execution is yet to arrive in the country.
Amunugama said, “We will be aggressive in promoting the government
policy of reducing the number of female workers who migrate for jobs as
domestic aides in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Asked if the External Affairs Ministry had done enough to save Rizana
Nafeeq, Amungama said the government did all it could to save Rizana
from the executioner’s blade, but she was subjected to the Sharia Law .
“We have expressed our displeasure over the execution of Nafeeq,” he
said. The international community and human rights fronts too expressed
their dismay at her execution. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were
She was executed in spite of many requests made by governments to the
Saudi state to pardon her. President Mahinda Rajapaksa appealed twice to
get Rizana released from her sentence on account of irregularities in
her detention and that she was an underaged girl at the time she was
arrested on charges of killing the infant boy of her employer. Asked if
the government was considering to get all or some of its women migrant
workers in Saudi return to the country over this issue, Amunugama said,
there are over 500,000 Sri Lankan domestic aides working in Saudi and
they have not made any such request.
However, we will will continue to promote the government policy of
bringing down the the numbers of Sri Lankan women leaving for other
countries as domestic aides. “Action will also be taken on securing
their chances to obtain justice in Saudi Arabia,” he explained.
Foreign Employment and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera announced that
the minimum age for women seeking housemaid jobs abroad has been raised
from 21 years to 25 in keeping with the government policy of reducing
the number of females going abroad as domestic workers, he added.