New Act to regulate foreign employment

The Government was mulling introducing a new Act to regulate foreign employment and to curb human trafficking, which was a major issue in Sri Lanka, Minister of Foreign Employment Minister Harin Fernando said yesterday.

Minister Fernando told a media briefing that decision on the issue
would be made on recommendations by a Cabinet Subcommittee appointed to look into it.

“Human trafficking is becoming a serious issue as many underage women are sent for employment overseas by agencies through forged or fraudulent documents,” he said.

“We have found out about a thirteen-year-old girl who had been sent to Oman using fraudulent documents. She had faced many problems in Oman. This girl had tried to commit suicide inside the Sri Lankan Embassy premises in Oman. There are a number of similar cases,” the Minister said.

He said an alternative Act would be introduced instead of making the family background report compulsory.

The Minister said the Government would also have to take into account the requests made by international human rights organizations that Sri Lanka should not suppress the rights of a person to obtain employment, despite the duty of looking after the children.

“Fathers too should be involved in looking after the children other than the mothers,” he noted.

The Minister said future plans would focus on sending skilled and semi-skilled persons for foreign employment rather than sending women as housemaids.

“Sri Lanka should follow other countries such as India, which had stopped sending women to work as housemaids abroad,” he said. (Yohan Perera)