Sunday, August 29, 2010

Maid Torture report arrives in Kingdom -

Daily Mirror
Maid torture report arrives in Kingdom
Monday, 30 August 2010 00:57
The Lankan Embassy received on Saturday the medical report regarding the housemaid L.T. Ariyawathi (49) who was found with 24 nails in her body allegedly driven in by Saudi employers. A video statement from her was also handed over to the Saudi Embassy in Colombo. “We have the report on the domestic aide,” an embassy official said, adding that the mission to take up the case with the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Saudi requesting action against the employer.Although the mission knows the details of the Saudi sponsor, the official said it was no protocol to contact him directly. Arab News tried to contact the sponsor but did not get a response.

“All our actions will be channelled through the Saudi Foreign Ministry,” he said.

Doctors in Sri Lanka removed on Friday 13 nails and five needles from the maid’s body. Six needles in her hands reportedly could not be removed because the procedure would damage nerves and arteries.

Condemning it as an inhumane act on an innocent worker, Kingsley Ranawaka, chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), said that the Saudi authorities should wake up regarding such human rights violations.

“Prompt action by the Saudi government will not only give confidence to the rest of the workers but will also stand as a warning against such merciless employers who treat workers like animals,” Ranawaka told Arab News from Colombo.

As a welfare measure, he added the SLBFE was making arrangements to build a house for the maid.

“It was the sole purpose of her going for overseas employment and we want to fulfill her wishes,” Ranawaka said, adding that these workers went for foreign jobs in search of greener pastures to improve their living conditions back home. “Unfortunately, a few end up with such misery.”

Ranawaka said that last year around 35,000 housemaids came to the Kingdom and 17,000 had already come during the first of the current year.

The state-run radio in Colombo said the chairman of the National Insurance Fund Senaka Abeygunasekera visited the patient at the hospital Friday and awarded the first insurance installment of 100,000 rupees (SR 3,300). Another 250,000 rupees (SR 8,200) will be given to her shortly.

In a related development, the incident of the tortured housemaid had caused panick among the new housemaids who are scheduled to arrive in the Kingdom.

A job agent in Colombo told Arab News on Friday that he had 10 housemaids ready to be dispatched to Riyadh for employment but now they are hesitating to come to the Kingdom because of this alarming news of human torture.

“This is going to affect our trade,” said the agent, who wished to remain anonymous.

(Arab News)

FR case against state by migrant worker

Sunday Times

FR case against state by migrant worker
An aggrieved 51-year Sri Lankan migrant worker has filed probably the first-ever fundamental rights application demanding compensation from the state and the job agent for a botched job offer in Qatar .
In his application filed in the Supreme Court on Friday, the worker, H.M. Bandara of Balabowa, Dewalapola says he was duped into signing a job agreement at a lower-than-agreed rate and as a result suffered in Qatar .

He says he first signed a contract to work as a fitter/plumber for a wage of 900 Qatar Riyals with job agent, Formosa Communication Co and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment also attesting the document.

Later he was forced by the agent to sign another document – or lose the job – at a reduced rate of 600 Riyals and the job description changed to ‘waiter’. He had already paid the agent Rs 125,000 and had no option, the petition filed by his lawyer, Lakshan Dias, said.

Arriving in Qatar on January 8, 2010, he was assigned the work of a labourer and due to the nature of the hard work, he received several injuries. “There are many Sri Lankans facing the same plight,” he said, adding that he returned to Sri Lanka , about two weeks later, and complained to the bureau. He has sought relief in the form of compensation of Rs 600,000, the cancellation of the agent’s license, and for the bureau to develop a compensation formula for all workers who are in similar circumstances.

Doha jobs: Embassy sets age limits for Lankans

Sunday Times

By Leon Berenger

Foreign employment agencies were yesterday fuming over a new age limit for Lankan workers heading to take jobs in the state of Doha , saying it would ruin employment prospects there.

The Lankan Embassy in that country has stated that those taking up employment in Doha should be above the age of 25 and not exceed 45 years, creating fears among employers who will now look elsewhere to fill vacancies, Faizer Mackeen, Secretary of the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA) said.

He said there has been a steady demand for Lankan hands in that country over the past few months with some 60,000 or more jobs lined up for next year alone.

“This new rule will only help to dampen this prospect and employers will turn elsewhere to countries such as Bangladesh , India , Pakistan and Nepal and the Sri Lankan market will be forced into the doldrums losing vital foreign exchange in the process,” Mr. Mackeen said.

He added that ALFEA had made strong representations to the highest authorities in the country to try and reverse this new rule but there has been a weak response.

“At no time did we endorse such a rule regarding the Doha station and it is purely a matter between the Lankan Mission in Qatar and the External Affairs Ministry in Colombo,” Mr. L. K. Ruhunuge the Additional General Manager of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB),” told the Sunday Times. He said this position had already been conveyed to ALFEA who were advised to take the matter up with the External Affairs Ministry officials handling the foreign labour desks.

An External Affairs Ministry spokesperson denied that such a new rule was imposed by the Embassy in Doha . “We have made this very clear to the SLFEB Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka,” he said without elaborating.

Malaysia best for Lankan migrant workers

Daily News
Indunil Hewage

Malaysia is the highly demand employment market in Asia for Sri Lankan skilled and semi-skilled migrant workers, Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies, Chairman, W. M. P. Aponso said.

The demand for Sri Lankan skilled and semi-skilled workers in the Middle East and Asia has increased considerably.

Qatar, Korea and Malaysia are considered as the highly demand employment markets for Sri Lankan migrant workers.

Among these countries, Malaysia is the highly demand employment market in Asia for Sri Lankan skilled and semi-skilled migrant workers.

However migrant workers in Malaysia are getting lower salaries when compared to salary rates of migrant workers in Middle East .

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Govt. tries to get Saudi maid compensation

Daily Mirror

How the airport X-Ray machines missed the nails, remains to be investigated

By Khrishan Jeewaka Jayaruk

Embassy of Sri Lanka in Saudi Arabia would lodge a complaint with the Saudi Arabian Police to arrest the employers of the Lankan house maid who had been tortured with nails, Foreign Employment Bureau sources said.

Authorities were trying to black list both the employer and the recruiting agency while getting her due compensations.Deputy General Manager of Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Services Bureau Mangala Randeniya said that action has been taken by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Saudi Arabia, to arrest the land lord -husband and wife, where the Sri Lankan house-maid had been tortured.

“No domestic servant will be sent to the same household where a person had been so cruelly treated and the Employment Agency which sent the victimised servant will be black listed,” he said.

He said that an investigation has already been completed and a report had been submitted to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia by the Ministry of Labour and that the embassy is pursuing the matter through the to have the errant couple arrested by the Saudi Arabian Police.

The house maid L.P. Ariyawathie (49) a resident of Udadeniya, Batuwita, Thihagoda, is undergoing treatment at the Andapana Government Hospital. Doctors had found twenty four (24) iron nails in her body.

Domestic workers get nod for Jordan jobs


The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) yesterday said they would now allow local recruitment agents to send migrant domestic workers to Jordan as the Jordanian officials had agreed to pay the minimum stipulated salary of US $ 200 per month.

SLBFE Acting General Manager L K Ruhunuge said that the Bureau had been notified regarding a compromise in this regard between the embassy and Jordanian recruiters.

The SLBFE earlier temporarily halted sending Sri Lankan domestic workers to Jordan citing the non-payment of the minimum wage of US $ 200 set by authorities for all workers leaving the country for employment on foreign soil. Ruhunuge said an earlier request by the Jordanian recruiters for the minimum salary to be made US $ 175 had been refused.

It is reported that Sri Lankan domestic workers were only paid a minimum salary of US $ 150 contrary to the minimum wage of US $ 200 imposed by the SLBFE.

An agreement between the relevant parties which pledge to ensure employers pay $ 200 monthly salaries in full and as stipulated in the workers' contracts is to be signed shortly.

It is reported that recent bans implemented by Indonesia and Sri Lanka preventing agents from sending domestic helpers to Jordan have negatively impacted the sector as recruitment agencies have suffered financial losses.

Housemaid case to be reported to Saudi Govt

Daily New

Steps have been taken by the Government to report the matter to the Saudi Government in respect of the housemaid who had returned from Saudi Arabia with 23 nails inside her body, due to torture by her Saudi employer, Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane told the media yesterday.

Minister Abeywardane said the housemaid had never previously worked in the Middle East .

The Job Agency had provided false information through a certificate confirming that she had ten years work experience in the Middle East .

The Sri Lanka Government will report this matter to the Saudi Arabian Government to seek adequate compensation for her, the Minister added.

Sri Lanka to lift ban on domestic helper recruitment

By Hani Hazaimeh

AMMAN - The Sri Lankan embassy on Tuesday agreed to lift a ban on sending domestic helpers to Jordan after a compromise was reached between the Sri Lankan government and Jordanian recruiters.

The ban, which was imposed last month over the non-payment of Sri Lankan domestic helpers’ salaries, was eased after the Domestic Helpers Recruitment Agencies Association (DHRAA) pledged to the embassy in Amman to ensure wages are paid in full.

“On Wednesday we will sign an agreement with the Sri Lankan embassy under which agents pledge to ensure employers pay $200 monthly salaries in full and as stipulated in the workers’ contracts,” DHRAA President Khalid Hseinat told The Jordan Times yesterday.

He added that the compromise was reached on Tuesday after the association and the embassy sat together and discussed the Sri Lankan ban.

Sri Lankan Ambassador to Jordan Andrayas Mohottala said the embassy imposed the ban after it learned Sri Lankan domestic helpers are not being paid their full salaries as stated in their contracts, copies of which are provided to the embassy, the labour ministry and the association.

“Our fellow domestic helpers are only paid $150 as monthly salary, which is against the contract and led many workers to seek the embassy’s assistance in getting their full salaries. Therefore, we decided to halt approving work contracts until this issue is addressed,” Mohottala told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.

He added that the association agreed to be directly involved in the implementation of all articles in the work contracts between domestic helpers and employers.

“We officially addressed our government in Colombo with the recent developments and the association’s pledge. We expect positive feedback soon and once we get the OK, we will resume sending workers to Jordan,” the diplomat said.

Currently, 95 Sri Lankan domestic helpers are seeking refuge at the embassy after fleeing from their employers for different reasons, including physical abuse and unpaid salaries.

A committee comprising members from the ministry, the DHRAA, the relevant embassies and the National Centre for Human Rights has started looking into the outstanding cases of 238 Indonesians, 140 Filipinos and 80 Sri Lankan domestic helpers residing at their respective embassies in Amman.

Mohottala said the committee is looking into the cases of 35 Sri Lankan domestic helpers, adding that so far only three cases have been resolved. Hseinat stressed that within the next few days the committee will address the demands of the remaining workers.

Recent bans implemented by Indonesia and Sri Lanka preventing agents from sending domestic helpers to Jordan have negatively impacted the sector, according to the DHRAA, as recruitment agencies have suffered financial losses.

Agents have urged authorities to speed up procedures to open new markets for domestic helpers, such as Ethiopia, in order to help curb the rising costs of recruiting domestic helpers.

state level action against maid torture

SLBFE seeks compensation:

State level action against maid torture
Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) General Manager H. Batagoda yesterday said they will take state level action against the Suadi Arabian employer who tortured a housemaid from Sri Lanka with iron nails. Batagoda said, the Bureau informed the Sri Lankan Emabassy in Riyadh and the Saudi Arabian embassy in the country about the incident.

” The Bureau will take every action to get maximum compensation from the employer for the inhumane treatment he and his family had inflicted on the maid by inserting nails in her body,” he said.

Doctors in Sri Lanka recovered 23 iron nails from her body at the hospital. Batagoda said, the maid did not complain about her being tortured by the employer at the airport when she arrived in the country on Saturday.

She informed about it after she was admitted to Kamburupitiya Base Hospital . ” We sent the Bureau’s Matara Branch OIC Buddhi Hiththatiya to record a statement from the victim about what had happened,” he said. Asked if the Bureau will pay compensation for her injuries, Batagoda said, the Bureau will pay her insurance and hospital bills until she gets her dues from her Saudi employer.

The Bureau will blacklist both the employer and the party that sponsored him with immediate effect. The victim said, the employer and her family tortured her by inserting iron nails because she could not understand their language.

”I could not understand their orders and they were angry,” she said

No SLBFE nod for maids to Jordan

Daily News
Shirley Wijesinghe

The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) will discourage Sri Lankans being sent to Jordan as housemaids, Additional General Manager LK Ruhunage told the Daily News yesterday.

The Bureau arrived at this decision after being informed of a number of instances where housemaids were paid wages below US $ 200, he added. "The SLBFE will not grant permission to housemaids leave for Jordan if their salaries are less than US $ 200," Ruhunage said.

He said most Foreign Employment Agencies are trying to recruit housemaids promising them higher salaries in Jordan . “However the maximum the housemaids are paid is US $150,” Ruhunage said.

He urged housemaids seeking employment in Jordan not to fall to employment agencies traps. There are over 40,000 Sri Lankans employed in Jordan and among 25,000 are housemaids, he said.

Saudi employer nails Lankan housemaid

Daily News
Suraj A. Bandara

A 56-year-old mother of three with 23 nails inside her body punched as punishments by her masters in Saudi Arabia has been hospitalized after returning to Sri Lanka .


*She went to Saudi a few months ago

*Work in an overcrowded house

* Doctors find 23 nails in her body

* Being treated at Kamburupitiya Hospital

She had gone to Saudi Arabia after being registered at the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Bureau a few months ago.

She had worked as a housemaid in an overcrowded house in Saudi Arabia with unbearable workload to be done per day. When she abstained or failed to accomplish her daily routine she had been inhumanly punished by her employers inserting nails to her body.

The doctors found around 23 nails in her body and removed them after a surgery. She told that she was severely beaten and nailed by her employers.

According to her, the job agency who sent her to that house promised her a place with safe and less work.

“But I had to work from dawn to dust. I had hardly slept. They habitually beat me, threatened to kill me and hide my body,” she said.

“I arranged my passports and all other documents to return through my own expenses. They were really devils with no mercy at all”. She is under treatment

Saudi action sought

Saudi authorities will be urged to take action against the culprits responsible for inserting 23 nails in a Sri Lankan maid, the Chairman of the Foreign Employment Bureau (FEB) Kingsley Ranawake told Daily Mirror online.

Speaking to Daily Mirror online, Ranawake explained that a translated statement from the victim will be sent to the Saudi authorities through the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry.

He added that the FEB condemned the abuse saying the behaviour of the Saudi employer is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. He added that the FEB will take the maximum necessary measures to ensure that the victim is compensated and justice served.

The victim had not informed her family about the incident and had instead told them that she had been abused with thorns from a date tree but after visiting a doctor and a specialist the story came to light, Ranawake said.

She is expected to undergo an operation on Thursday in order to remove the nails. (Daily Mirror online)
By Gandhya Senanayake

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Saudi employer nails Lankan housemaid

Suraj A. Bandara
A 56-year-old mother of three with 23 nails inside her body punched as punishments by her masters in Saudi Arabia has been hospitalized after returning to Sri Lanka .
*She went to Saudi a few months ago
*Work in an overcrowded house
* Doctors find 23 nails in her body
* Being treated at Kamburupitiya Hospital
She had gone to Saudi Arabia after being registered at the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Bureau a few months ago.
She had worked as a housemaid in an overcrowded house in Saudi Arabia with unbearable workload to be done per day. When she abstained or failed to accomplish her daily routine she had been inhumanly punished by her employers inserting nails to her body.
The doctors found around 23 nails in her body and removed them after a surgery. She told that she was severely beaten and nailed by her employers.
According to her, the job agency who sent her to that house promised her a place with safe and less work.
“But I had to work from dawn to dust. I had hardly slept. They habitually beat me, threatened to kill me and hide my body,” she said.
“I arranged my passports and all other documents to return through my own expenses. They were really devils with no mercy at all”. She is under treatment

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Human Rights In Saudi Arabia

Corporal and capital punishment; right to representation
Further information: Capital punishment in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is one of around thirty countries in the world with judicial corporal punishment. In Saudi Arabia's case this includes amputations of hands and feet for robbery, and flogging for lesser crimes such as "sexual deviance" and drunkenness. The number of lashes is not clearly prescribed by law and is varied according to the discretion of judges, and ranges from dozens of lashes to several hundreds, usually applied over a period of weeks or months.

In 2004, the United Nations Committee against Torture criticized Saudi Arabia over the amputations and floggings it carries out under Sharia. The Saudi delegation responded defending "legal traditions" held since the inception of Islam 1,400 years ago and rejected interference in its legal system.

Saudi Arabia also engages in capital punishment, including public executions by beheading.[4] Beheading is the punishment for murderers, rapists, drug traffickers and armed robbers, according to strict interpretation of Islamic law. In 2005 there were 191 executions, in 2006 there were 38, in 2007 there were 153, and in 2008 there were 102.[5]

A spokesman for Saudi Arabia's National Society for Human Rights has said that numbers of executions are rising because crime rates are rising, that prisoners are treated humanely, and that the beheadings deter crime, saying, ""Allah, our creator, knows best what's good for his people...Should we just think of and preserve the rights of the murderer and not think of the rights of others?"[6]

[edit] Women's rights
Main article: Women's rights in Saudi Arabia
Saudi women sometimes face discrimination in many aspects of their lives, such as the justice system. Although they make up 70% of those enrolled in universities, for social reasons, women make up just 5% of the workforce in Saudi Arabia,[7] the lowest proportion in the world. The treatment of women has been referred to as "Sex segregation"[8][9] and "gender apartheid".[10][11] Implementation of a government resolution supporting expanded employment opportunities for women met resistance from within the labor ministry,[12] from the religious police,[13] and from the male citizenry.[14]

In many parts of Saudi Arabia, it is believed that a woman's place is in the home caring for her husband and family. There is also segregation inside their own homes as some rooms have separate entrances for men and women.[15]

The driving ban for women was unofficial until 1990 when it was introduced as official legislation after 47 Saudi women drove cars through the streets of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Even though illegal, women in rural areas and other areas outside cities do drive cars.[16] Women are allowed to fly aircraft, though they must be chauffeured to the airport.[17]

Women's rights are at the heart of calls for reform in Saudi Arabia - calls that are challenging the kingdom's political status quo[15]. Local and international women's groups are also pushing governments to respond, taking advantage of the fact that some rulers are eager to project a more progressive image to the West.

The presence of powerful businesswomen—still a rare sight—in some of these groups helps get them heard.[18] Prior to 2008, women were not allowed to enter hotels and furnished apartments without a chaperon or mahram. With a 2008 Royal Decree, however, the only requirement needed to allow women to enter hotels are their national ID cards, and the hotel must inform the nearest police station of their room reservation and length of stay, however this happens with everybody staying in the hotel not just women.[19]

Many Saudis believe that allowing women the right to drive could lead to Western-style openness and an erosion of traditional values.[20]

According to the CIA world factbook, 70.8% of females are literate, in comparison to 84.7% literacy rates in males.[21]

[edit] Religious freedoms
Main article: Freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia

A road sign for a bypass used to restrict non-Muslims from MeccaSaudi Arabian law does not recognize religious freedom, and the public practice of non-Muslim religions is actively prohibited.[22] No law specifically requires citizens to be Muslims, but article 12.4 of the Naturalization Law requires that applicants attest to their religious affiliation, and article 14.1 requires that applicants to get a certificate endorsed by their local cleric.[23] The Government has declared the Holy Quran and the Sunna (tradition) of the Prophet Muhammad to be the country’s constitution. The Government bases its legitimacy on governance according to the precepts of the rigorously conservative and strict interpretation of the Salafi or Wahhabi school of the Sunni branch of Islam and discriminates against other branches of Islam. Neither the Government nor society in general accepts the concepts of separation of religion and state, and such separation does not exist. The legal system is based on Sharia (Islamic law), with Shari'a courts basing their judgments largely on a code derived from the Quran and the Sunna. The Government permits Shi'a Muslims to use their own legal tradition to adjudicate noncriminal cases within their community.[23]

Under Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican officials have raised the issue of Christians being forbidden from worshipping openly in Saudi Arabia[24]. As an Islamic State, Saudi Arabia gives preferential treatment for Muslims. While allowing foreigners to come and work, Saudi Arabia prohibits the burial of Non-Muslims on Saudi soil[25][26] During Ramadan, eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours is not allowed.[27] Foreign schools are often required to teach a yearly introductory segment on Islam. Saudi Arabia forbids missionary work by any religion other than Wahabi/Salafi Islam. Saudi religious police have detained Shiite pilgrims participating in the Hajj, allegedly calling them "infidels in Mecca".[28] The restrictions on the Shi'a branch of Islam in the kingdom along with the banning of displaying Jewish and Christian symbols have been referred to as apartheid.[29]

It was reported that a state website detailed the prohibition of Israeli passport holders and Jewish people from entering the kingdom.[30] The Saudi government removed the offensive language saying that it was a mistake. A United States congressman noted that the Saudi record of anti-Semitism suggested otherwise and subsequently sponsored a bill that would control the distribution of visas to Saudi citizens until the President certified that the Saudis do not discriminate on the basis of religious affiliation or heritage when issuing visas.[31][32]

[edit] LGBT rights
Main article: LGBT rights in Saudi Arabia
Although not uncommon and hidden, all sexual activity outside of a traditional heterosexual marriage is illegal. Punishment for homosexuality, cross-dressing, or being involved with anything that hints at the existence of an organized gay community will range from imprisonment, deportation (for foreigners), lashes, and sometimes execution.

[edit] HIV and AIDS
By law, all Saudi citizens who are infected with HIV or AIDS are entitled to free medical care, protection of their privacy and employment opportunities. Yet, most hospitals will not treat patients who are infected, and many schools and hospitals are reluctant to distribute government information about the disease, because of the strong taboos and stigma that are attached to how the virus can be spread [33].

Until the late 1990s, information on HIV/AIDS was not widely available to the public, but this has started to change. In the late 1990s, the government started to recognize World AIDS Day, and allowed information about the disease to be published in newspapers.[citation needed]. The number of people living in the kingdom who were infected was a closely guarded secret. However, in 2003 the government announced the number of known cases of HIV/AIDS in the country.

Any foreigner found to be infected with HIV, the virus which causes AIDS (or, indeed, any other serious medical condition), is deported to their country of origin. Condoms are available in hospitals and pharmacies, and in some supermarkets as well.

[edit] Political freedoms
Freedom of speech and the press are restricted to forbid criticism of the government. Trade unions and political organizations are banned. Public demonstrations are forbidden. The Saudi Government is an active censor of Internet reception within its borders.[34]

Recently the internet has become a tool for dissent, however the arrest of prominent Saudi blogger and reformist Fouad al-Farhan has been seen as somewhat of a crackdown on online dissent. Fouad al-Farhan had been jailed in solitary confinement since December, 2007, without charges, after criticizing Saudi religious, business and media figures.[35] He was released on April 26, 2008.[36]

Political parties are banned, but some political dissidents were freed in the 1990s on the condition that they disband their political organizations. Only the Green Party of Saudi Arabia remains, although it is an illegal organization.

The 1990s marked a slow period of political liberalization in the kingdom as the government created a written constitution, and the advisory Consultative Council, the latter being an appointed delegation of Saudi scholars and professionals that are allowed to advise the king.

150 runaway Sri Lankans to be deported this week

Published: Aug 16, 2010 00:36 Updated: Aug 16, 2010 00:36
RIYADH: More than 150 Sri Lankan workers who have been residing illegally in the Makkah province after escaping from their employers are to be deported this week.
“The workers include 70 male and 80 female domestic servants who have run away from their employers,” Sabarullah Khan, Sri Lankan consul general in Jeddah, told Arab News on Sunday.
He added that all the paperwork regarding the deportation of these workers has been finalized but immigration authorities have yet to give the green light after screening the workers for criminal history.
Khan said the main reason for workers running away from employers is underpayment or nonpayment of salaries. He pointed out that harassment and ill-treatment cases are minimal and that such cases are brought to the notice of the mission as soon as they occur.
Khan said that domestic aides pay around SR6,500 in placement fee to recruitment agencies who give them false promises of high salaries. Workers discover the ruse only after arriving in the Kingdom with their passports in the possession of local placement agents or employers.
Two to three runaway workers seek refuge daily at the Sri Lankan Consulate in Jeddah.

Law and You - 19

Published: Jul 30, 2010 23:53 Updated: Aug 14, 2010 00:35
My husband has been working here for the last three years. I came to Saudi Arabia in 2008 on a family visa. But soon after my arrival my husband’s sponsor declared him to be an absconding worker. Shortly after my husband had a mental breakdown and doctors advised him to return home for treatment. However, because of the action of his employer, my husband was arrested by immigration officials and has been in detention for two years. I haven’t had contact with him in that period of time. My embassy has not helped me. I have a baby and do not know what to do. — A.B.C.
Seek advise from the Labor Office. Take a translator unless your Arabic is fluent. Bring any medical reports. I am astonished that your embassy is not helping in the matter. It is part of their mission to provide such services to citizens of their country. Go to your embassy again and insist on seeing the head of the mission and ask for his help. Between the embassy and Labor Office, a solution should be found.

I have been working in Saudi Arabia for the past 50 days and I still have not received my iqama. My company gave me a note saying my iqama is being processed in case any official wants to check my status. The letter has no chamber of commerce verification stamp. Please advise. — A.S.D.
Take your letter that is authorized by your employer to the local chamber of commerce and industry and have them authenticate it. If your employer is not a registered employer with the chamber of commerce then you should go to the local Labor Office (with a translator) and bring this issue up.

I have been working in Saudi Arabia as a driver for two years. Now I am leaving on final-exit and I want to return on a new visa for another company. Do I need a no-objection certificate (NOC) from my current employer? Also, my current employer is not registered with the local chamber of commerce. — Z.X.C
Yes, you will need NOC to return immediately to work with another sponsor. If you stay away for one year from the termination of your service you may return for a new job without the NOC. If your sponsor does not have a chamber of commerce registration then he must go with you to the Passport Department and sign before them.

— Answers given by Muhammad Jaber Nader

NSHR official details difficulties with complaints

Published: Aug 14, 2010 23:42 Updated: Aug 14, 2010 23:42
JEDDAH: One of the major difficulties faced by the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) while dealing with complaints from aggrieved persons is the lack of documents to support their claims, said the director of the Makkah branch of the NSHR, Hassan Al-Sharif, while giving a lecture titled “Trading in Humans.”
The lecture was delivered in a function organized by NSHR in Makkah on Saturday.
“The society is currently studying the issues faced by the Burmese community in Makkah and the ways to make related government departments solve their issues. But a stumbling block in the way of helping them is the lack of documents to support their claims,” Al-Sharif said.
The Burmese community’s other problems are unemployment and lack of health care facilities in addition to difficulties related to marriage of their youths, he said.
However, he expressed satisfaction at the society’s success in helping the community in many ways.
The official also commended the encouragement provided by the government in the NSHR’s efforts to solve issues involving family violence, treatment of prisoners and denial of the rights of expatriate laborers. He added that NSHR has successfully dealt with complaints by victims of denial of custody, payment of expenses (to wives and children), sexual harassment and forcible or denial of marriage.
He said the major problems faced by prisoners are the delay in their release after serving the full time of their sentences and denial of primary health care.
Withholding laborers’ passports and residence permits by sponsors, denial of their transfer of sponsorship and delaying in the payment of their wages are some of the problems faced by expatriate laborers, he said.

Arab Human Rights Committee urge members to send human rights reports

Published: Aug 16, 2010 01:09 Updated: Aug 16, 2010 01:09
The Arab Human Rights Committee has urged member states to report back to them on how they are tackling human rights.
The committee is particularly focusing on those who signed the Arab convention on human rights.
During its seventh meeting, held under the leadership of chairman Dr. Ibrahim Al-Awadi at its headquarters in Cairo, the committee considered recommendations and decisions concerning the schedule to discuss reports from member states.
The committee confirmed that it would aim to remain independent as per the convention and called on all Arab countries to sign up to tackle human rights issues.
A newly elected member from Saudi Arabia, Dr. Hadi Al-Yami, was also welcomed at the meeting.

New labor minister to learn by listening

Published: Aug 21, 2010 00:22 Updated: Aug 21, 2010 00:22
JEDDAH: Newly appointed Labor Minister Adel Fakieh, who stepped down this past week from his position as Jeddah mayor, told Arab News on Friday he would spend some time learning and meeting with experts to help him achieve the goals of his ministry.
"I will seek the help of the people with long experience but will listen to everyone," he said. "I will listen to both the employers and the employees."
Fakieh did not elaborate on his immediate tasks, but said tackling unemployment was high on his priority list. He did not claim to have all the solutions but welcomed "constructive" suggestions to address the issue.
Fakieh was appointed labor minister after the death of Ghazi Al-Gosaibi on Aug. 15. Fakieh was replaced by Hani Abu Ras as Jeddah’s mayor. He assumes the post on Saturday. Abu Ras holds a doctorate in industrial engineering. He has been the secretary-general of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) for the past six months. Abu Ras and Fakieh both worked in private sector at The Savola Group, a major Saudi food conglomerate that owns the Azizia Panda regional supermarket chain.
Fakieh had also been chairman of the JCCI, and he recently said he would draw on his experience gained at the chamber of commerce in executing his duties.
"Working with businesspeople and the residents of the city has given me valuable understanding that would assist me in my new duties, which is helping the employers and the employees," he recently told the media.

Complaint filed against comatose OFW’s employer

Published: Aug 21, 2010 00:19 Updated: Aug 21, 2010 00:19
JEDDAH: The Philippine Consulate General has filed a complaint against an employer for failing to repatriate a Filipino worker who has been in a vegetative state for nearly five years.
The consulate has voiced its concerns to the Human Rights Commission’s office in Riyadh over Atif Kurdi’s treatment of Augusto “Jun” A. Butaran, who is currently at a hospital in Taif.
“Case officer Liza Masa recently filed the complaint with the commission. To make it direct, we requested Butaran’s son Joseph sign the complaint,” Consul General Ezzedin H. Tago told Arab News on Wednesday.
Joseph, 27, applied for work with the Abu Shakra Restaurant in Jeddah so that he could stay close to his father, who suffered a heart attack in July 2007 after working for nearly 20 years at the National Printing Press.
The business, which has since closed down, was located on Babalria Street in Taif. Kurdi and his family are now staying in Jeddah.
The consulate had already lodged a complaint with the police in Salamah district in Taif. Officers called Kurdi, who promised that Butaran would be repatriated.
When he did not fulfill his promise, the consulate told Masa to file the complaint in accordance with the wishes of Butaran’s wife.
Arab News reported that Butaran’s wife talked to Philippine Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor about her husband’s plight on June 21.
“We are now waiting for feedback from the Human Rights Commission regarding what the former employer has said,” Masa said.
Kurdi told the consulate earlier that he would give the SR31,000 needed for his former employee’s repatriation. The amount would include the cost of a plane ticket for a nurse who would accompany Butaran to his hometown of Kawit in Cavite province.
Butaran is also due to receive SR15,000 in benefits and unpaid salaries. But Kurdi has had difficulty raising the amount.
“The employer had merely been making empty promises, saying that his brother Aiman would coordinate with the consulate regarding the repatriation of Jun. His brother had visited the consulate once or twice. But nothing substantial was accomplished as far as Jun’s repatriation is concerned,” Butaran’s wife told Arab News.
She added that Butaran’s passport had also expired, although the consulate later validated it.
“We don’t know how many more times it will be validated until Atif Kurdi makes good on his promise. He also promised that he’d renew Jun’s iqama but I am not sure if he has done it.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sri Lankan maids without valid visas in Lebanon return to country

ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka .

Aug 21, Colombo : Sri Lankan maids who were working in Lebanon without valid visas have returned to the country today (21) using the amnesty period offered by Lebanon .

Sri Lankan Ambassador to Lebanon M. Maharoof has been quoted in the local media saying that several Sri Lankans who made use of the amnesty period had left for Sri Lanka yesterday (20) after obtaining the required clearance from Sri Lankan Embassy in Lebanon .

The Lebanon government had offered a three month amnesty period following a request by Ambassador Maharoof in order to ensure safe passage for hundreds of Sri Lankans who are in the country illegally to return to Sri Lanka .

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

UN praises Canada's handling of migrants

News Toronto & GTA

The UN is giving Canada the thumbs up for its handling of a boatload of 490 Tamil migrants who were smuggled into the country off the coast of B.C. last week.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees on Tuesday praised Canada for accepting the third largest amount of Tamil refugees of all the wealthy countries.
The UNHCR in a press briefing in Switzerland said the arrival and disembarkation of the migrants were well-handled by authorities.
“Refugees are a distinct group with critical protection needs,” briefer Andrej Mahecic said. “It is not a crime to seek asylum.”
The body singled out the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) for its processing of the MV Sun Sea migrants.
“The reception site was well designed,” Mahecic said. “The priorities for safe disembarkation of the ship were clearly defined with medical needs topping the list for those on board, who included men, women and children.”
The UNHCR said due to improving conditions in Sri Lanka “claims by asylum seekers from that country should be considered on their individual merits rather than on a group basis.”
Its officials said there are 146,100 Sri Lankan refugees in 64 countries. The top countries for resettlement includes India, with 73,200 claimants accepted, France with 20,500, Canada with 19,150 and Germany with 12,250.
The bottom of a Top 10 list of countries for accepting Tamils included Australia, which has accepted 2,000, the U.S. with 1,500 and Italy with 960.
Mahecic said there are currently about 7,500 Sri Lankan migrants claiming refugee status in 57 countries. Some 34,000 asylum seekers last year filed refugee claims in Canada, including 76 who arrived by boat in October 2009.
He said the UN will monitor the resettlement of the migrants to ensure “compliance with the relevant provisions” for the treatment refugees.

saudi maids stranded

By Indika Sri Aravinda

Over 300 housemaids are stranded at the Olaya camp in Saudi Arabia and among them are those who faced abuse and other forms of rape, UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayaka told reporters in Colombo today.

The families of those stranded at the Saudi camp also attended the press briefing today and sought assistance from the government. (Daily Mirror online)

Abuse maid gets back her passport


By S.H.Moulana - Riyadh , Saudi Arabia

Manama, 18 August, (

An Indian housemaid who fled her employer's home covered in bruises had her passport and thyroid medication returned to her yesterday - along with 45 days of unpaid salary.

Salma Begum had been without her passport and other personal belongings since fleeing the home of her Bahraini boss on August 3, claiming she was routinely beaten and forced to sleep outside.

The 32-year-old widow from Hyderabad has been living at the Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) shelter for abused foreign workers ever since.

Her outstanding salary and belongings were returned to her as she met an arbitrator at the Labour Ministry yesterday, alongside MWPS volunteer Mehru Vesuvala.

The MWPS had made a special application to have her personal items returned, along with the salary she said she had not received since she started working for the family back in June.

Her employer's Bahraini wife had her trial adjourned until September 2 when she appeared in court on Sunday, but was released on bail.

"I am very happy to have my passport and my belongings back, and also to get the salary that was due to me," Ms Begum told the GDN through a translator yesterday.

"I wasn't expecting a decision in court. I know that could take a long time, but I'm willing to fight this case."

Ms Begum underwent hospital treatment for her injuries, but volunteers said she was now in good health.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lanka gets tough

The Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau says that they have decided not to send domestic workers to Jordan if the domestic workers are to receive a pay less than 200 US Dollars.

According to the bureau the Jordan recruitment agency has informed the Foreign Employment Bureau that they are ready to provide a salary less than 200 US Dollars.

The Additional General Manager of the bureau L.K. Ruhunage said the bureau will not permit domestic workers to go to Jordan as the salary is too low.

He said that the bureau is willing to take measures to send domestic workers to anyone who is willing to pay a salary more than 200 US Dollars.

The foreign employment bureau has recommended that a salary not less than US 200 should be paid for domestic workers no matter which country they work in. (Daily Mirror online)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ministry shuts 5 maids offices

The Ministry of Interior announced the closure of five domestic servant offices for violating the amended law on domestic workers, and revoked the licenses of four domestic workers procurement companies for failing to show up to defend themselves from the accusations and complaints of citizens, reports Alam-Alyawm daily.
Sources said the ministry is determined to enforce rules and regulations and that any company caught duping or selling maids would be severely dealt with. They disclosed that new contracts would be distributed in the beginning of Ramadan to companies and that non-compliance with the amended laws won’t be tolerated.
The new rules mandate the companies to bear the financial responsibility of deporting a maid who hasn’t stayed in Kuwait for more than 100 days and ran away or played truant. The company is also to refund the citizen provided the causes of running away are known, or there is sickness, death, suicide or the maid entered Kuwait with an ailment. The rule also states that proper accommodation must be provided for maids when they enter the country and that inspection teams would be on the lookout for violators. A system has also been developed to allow the ministry access the records of the companies, in order to monitor their activities.
Arab Times Online

Filipina maid inherits millions from Singaporean employer

SINGAPORE, July 21, 2010 (AFP) - A devoted Filipina maid inherited six million Singapore dollars (more than four million US) from her late employer after more than 20 years of service, a newspaper report said Wednesday.
"I am the luckiest maid in Singapore, with or without the money," the 47-year-old single woman -- identified only by the pseudonym "Christine" -- told the Straits Times in an interview.
The maid refused to be named in public for fear of possible threats to her life in the impoverished Philippines, where wealthy people have been kidnapped for ransom and some killed by their abductors.
The windfall, including cash and a luxury apartment near the Orchard Road shopping belt, came from the estate of her employer Quek Kai Miew, a medical doctor and philanthropist who died last year at 66.
The maid had also taken care of the doctor's late mother, and was told that she would be a beneficiary of her employer's will when it was drawn up in 2008.
"There were no secrets between us. I was not surprised at all when she told me how much I was going to get," the maid recalled.
"Christine" was devastated when Quek died a year ago, as the two were inseparable, and temporarily moved in with the doctor's nephew for solace.
"It was heartbreaking for me as I saw more years with Doctor Quek than with my own mother. I would break down every time I thought about her. I could not be by myself," she said.
"I was always beside her. Wherever she went, I was with her."
The maid, who is now applying for permanent residency in Singapore, said her newfound wealth had not changed her lifestyle.
"I do not really think much about the money I got. I just live my life as I did before, and not as a rich person," the maid, dressed simply in a blouse and slacks with short-cropped hair, was quoted as saying.
"I am still who I was before. I cannot behave differently because I have money now. Even my Filipino maid friends here still treat me the same."
Nearly 200,000 foreign maids, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, work in affluent Singapore, which has a population of five million.
Arab Times Online

Two maids accused of stealing valuables worth KD 12,800

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 6: A member of the teaching staff of the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training has filed a complaint with the police accusing his two housemaids of stealing goods worth KD 12,800 including two laptops, reports Al-Rai daily.
Other stolen items, he said, include KD 3,000 in cash, jewelry worth KD 2,800, two watches believed to be valued at KD 2,000 each and books worth KD 5,000.
Personnel from the Criminal Evidences Department have lifted fingerprints to identify the culprits although the victim has pointed a finger of accusation at the two maids.
Moreover, the maids are reported absconding.

Maid attempts suicide: An Indone-sian housemaid tried to commit suicide, after she engaged in a fight with her Kuwaiti sponsor in her 40s and caused severe injury to the head. The citizen is said to have called the Operations Room when the maid threatened to throw herself from the second floor of the building.
In the meantime, securitymen and paramedics rushed to the scene, and they managed to convince the maid to give up the plan. She was then referred to the concerned authority.

Maid hurt in escape bid: A Filipino housemaid who tried in vain to escape from her sponsor’s home has been admitted to the Adan Hospital with broken bones and other injuries, reports Al-Dar daily.
The daily quoting security sources said the woman was attempting to climb down from the second floor of her sponsor’s apartment and she reportedly fell on the ground below.
She was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Meanwhile, police have summoned the sponsor to know why the woman was attempting to escape from him.
Arab Times Online

SLBFE delists eleven job agencies

Sunday Observer


The newly formed Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) last week cancelled eleven job agencies that operated under different names at many parts of the country.

In addition, the Bureau investigation teams had also cracked down 59 illegal foreign job recruitment agencies during the first six months commencing from January this year.

SLBFE, Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka told the Sunday Observer that legal actions were taken against 63 owners of these 59 errant job agencies and provided relief to victimised job seekers following Court orders.

He said 70 percent of the fines which were imposed by Courts on bogus job agencies are deposited in the SLBFE Accounts and they will be utilised to provide welfare facilities for workers and their dependents in Sri Lanka .

Ranawaka also said the licences of number of registered employment agencies which indulged in unauthorised activities when selecting employees for foreign jobs have been temporarily suspended until the investigations are finalised.

The Bureau also thanked the Sri Lanka Standards Institution for the assistance given to grade all registered foreign job agencies since it will be important for Lankan job seekers in future.

Meanwhile, the Bureau has received complaints that some job agencies retain the passports of job seekers and demand colossal sum of money by promising them lucrative jobs abroad.

Over 300 Lankans in Saudi jail

Colombo Page - August 5, 2010

Workers say many are physically and sexually abused in Saudi Arabia

Nearly 350 Sri Lankan housemaids are in a jail in Saudi Arabia waiting for the help of authorities to go home, a Sri Lankan worker said.

The housemaids, most of whom have fled their masters in Saudi Arabia as a result of physical and sexual abuse, the worker told BBC Sandeshaya from Olaya Security camp in the capital Riyadh .

Workers are sent to the camp by Sri Lanka embassy officials after keeping them in transit for few days. The housemaids are then kept in the camp until Saudi police conduct investigations and permit them to leave.

"Some were physically abused, beaten, not give food for a long time. Some were not paid for years and there are pregnant women who have been sexually abused," the detained worker said.

'Bribing' police

The worker accused the Saudi police who guard the premises of taking bribes to hand over some of the women to Saudi 'Babas' (masters).

Some Sri Lankan workers were earlier stranded in Jeddah

"Even yesterday, a girl from Valaichchenai left when called by the police. She never came back. Her clothes are still in the camp," she said.

She said five Sri Lankan women earlier taken in a similar manner were later found dead in front of the camp.

"We don't know what happened to the bodies thereafter."

The worker added that thousands of inmates - nationals from Philippines , Indonesia , India , Nepal , Kenya and Bangladesh in addition to Sri Lanka - are suffering in the camp without proper food, clothing or any sanitary facilities.

Government response

"Our request to camp authorities to at least wash our bed sheets which were not cleaned for months, went unheard," she said.

Sri Lankan diplomatic officials in Riyadh who reject allegations of abuse by stranded maids say that they have received any complaints so far.

Labour Counsellor Nimal Ranawaka told BBC Sandeshaya that any such complaints will be investigated.

He added that the Sri Lankan maids in addition to workers from several other countries are housed in the Olaya camp in transition.

FEB brings back stranded housemaids

Daily News - 5th August 2010
Suraj A. Bandara

The Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) stated that seven Sri Lankan housemaids who were ill and stranded in a hostel in Riyadh were returned to Sri Lanka yesterday.

Around 45 housemaids are with the Job agency till they are found jobs as promised by the agency. They are stranded in a hostel in Riyadh .

The Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh and the SLFEB took urgent steps to bring the seven housemaids since they were ill. The returnees were handed over to the Airport officials and after giving them early medication they were sent to their houses. No one was critical needing to be hospitalization, Bureau said.

The Bureau will take action to bring down another 26 housemaids who have consented to return. Seven housemaids have expressed their willingness to stay and find employment. The Job agency who promised to provide jobs is looking after the housemaids till they find employments in Riyadh .

The Bureau further stated it would bear the full cost for getting down the rest of the housemaids. Actions will be taken immediately to bring them back to the country, it said.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lankan women stranded in Riyadh

MD Rasooldeen

*Forty one women not given assigned jobs
*Six women fall sick
Forty-one Sri Lankan workers, all of them women, have been stranded in Riyadh since March because they were not given their assigned jobs by their local sponsor. “The local agent in Colombo recruited the workers for a cleaning company, which is unable to deploy the workers since it has a dispute with the concerned hospital (where the workers were to be deployed),” the Sri Lankan Embassy’s labour counsellor Nimal Ranawake said. The diplomat added that the sponsor has promised suitable placement as soon as the dispute between the cleaning company and the hospital is settled.

Meanwhile, five months into the women’s ordeal, six women have reportedly fallen ill and relatives of the stranded workers say they are not being adequately accommodated with hygienic conditions or food. Without access to the workers, Daily News was unable to confirm the claims.

Relatives of some of the women say they were told their loved ones would be working as cleaners for a company called Rasik Al-Mussalla and that a Colombo-based labour recruiter called New Trans Gulf Co. promised the women immediate placement for SR 650 (about $ 174) a month with food and lodging.

Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Assistant General Manager L. Ruhunuge, said the bureau has requested the Sri Lankan Embassy to help the six women who have fallen ill return home.

“We have also requested the mission to supply dry rations and toiletries to the stranded workers, since the company is not supplying any food,” Ruhunuge said. “We cannot tolerate this situation for a long time.

Either the sponsor has to give them employment or repatriate them home.”

The Kingdom has a Sri Lankan population of 550,000 workers, a majority of them female domestic servants. Ruhunuge said the Sri Lanka Colombo Government’s efforts to increase the wages of Sri Lankan overseas workers has led remittances by foreign workers to jump from $ 2.9 billion in 2008 to $ 3.3 billion last year.

44,000 Sri Lankans move to Qatar for jobs in a year

Qatar received more than 44,000 workers from Sri Lanka last year, according to a report posted in a Sri-Lanka-based website.
The website, The Migrant News, quoting officials of Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment, reported that about 44,000 Sri Lankans reached Qatar for taking up employment in 2009. “This constituted about 18% of the total outflow of workers from Sri Lanka,” it said.
In the first quarter of the current year also, there was a considerable movement of Sri Lankan workers to Qatar, the website reported.
Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Bureau additional general manager A M Ruhunage said Qatar had received more than 15,000 Sri Lankans in the first quarter of this year. “This amounted to nearly 22% of the total outflow from Sri Lanka,” reported the website, quoting Ruhunage.
The website termed Qatar as the largest employment provider to Sri Lankan nationals in the last two years. A vast majority of Sri Lankan migrants who moved to Qatar were males, it said.
The increasing labour movement to Qatar has taken place in the wake of some important bilateral agreements between the two countries, it noted.

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