Spate of abuse cases worries Lankan envoy

DUBAI — The recent spate of abuse cases of Sri Lankan domestic and garment factory workers reported in a cross-section of the English and Arabic media is alarming.

By Meraj Rizvi

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Published: Tue 12 Apr 2005, 10:28 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:00 PM

“Although, we are taking necessary measures in cooperation with the local authorities in extending all assistance towards settlement of disputes and repatriation, stringent measures to plug the loopholes in the system and punish the culprits is the need of the hour,” a top official at the Sri Lankan Consul in Dubai said, yesterday.

P.D. Fernando, Sri Lankan Consul-General in Dubai, told Khaleej Times that several cases of absconding housemaids who flee their employer, or their sponsor's home to escape torture and agony, and cases of outstanding wages of housemaids and factory workers, are being reported to the Consulate regularly.

Besides, the mission also receives several reports of Sri Lankan workers dying under natural or mysterious circumstances and require assistance for repatriation of the bodies, he said, adding that only last year, around 20 death cases were reported to the consulate.

“The Sri Lankan Consulate is doing everything possible within its means to extend legal and financial assistance to the victims. On several occasions, the consulate has raised funds from the local community to help the victims returning home without settlement of dues,” he said.

"But, we have our limitations with the limited staff at the mission,” the consul-general said, urging the Sri Lankan workers to cooperate with the mission and the local authorities to overcome their problems.

Fernando urged the Sri Lankan workers facing any difficulty at their workplace to immediately report the matter to the immigration authorities.

“If not happy with the outcome of the meeting with the immigration officials, come to the consulate and we will talk to the employment agents and local sponsors to find a solution to your problems,” he said.

He urged the workers who have not received their salaries for more than two months to also report the matter to the consulate. “Because if the salary is outstanding for more than four to five months period, it becomes very difficult for us to help you and recover your dues,” he said.

The consul general said the consulate will negotiate with the sponsors on the settlement of their dues and cooperate with the local authorities to cancel their visa and repatriation. “We will also assist with the airline tickets, provided the victims are on proper visa and had arrived into the country through legal channels in Colombo,” he added.

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