Lack of evidence adds to woes of duped Nepali foreign job-seekers

Kathmandu, January 3

Thirty-two-year-old Shambhu Koirala (name changed) saw his dreams of securing a better future for his family in Baglung crumble with the medical report issued by his employer company in Kuala Lumpur that declared him ‘medically unfit’ and sent him back home.

The youth, who narrated his story to The Himalayan Times on condition of anonymity as his case is pending, said the lab tests conducted in the Capital before he flew to Malaysia had stated he was in perfect health.

Upon approaching the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) seeking compensation from the manpower company that sent him to Malaysia, the department had directed the firm to recheck his health. But the medical report again showed he was ‘fit’.

Although the manpower agency eventually agreed to pay him compensation, the company said it would only reimburse him Rs 10,000 for which he has a receipt. Koirala, on the other hand, claims he had spent a total of Rs 80,000 during the entire process. “However, they never gave me the receipts of the remaining amount,” he said.

The story of another youth from Madhes is even more tragic. According to him, he had spent nearly Rs 100,000 before he was sent back from Saudi Arabia on health grounds. However, he does not have a single evidence to claim compensation.

“One of my relatives had helped me during the entire visa process and I had just handed him the cash,” he said, adding he had no idea about the process of acquiring approval for foreign employment from the DoFE.

The government had enforced the free visa and ticket rule for job-seekers in six Gulf countries — Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait — and Malaysia from July 2015. Since then, manpower agencies have been barred from charging more than Rs 10,000 that excludes the charge of insurance, welfare fund and medical tests, while sending labourers to the above mentioned destinations. However, the fact that a large number of cases like those detailed above are reported in DoFE every day shows the manpower companies have found a way around government’s rule.

According to the data maintained by DoFE, the total number of complaints lodged against fraud cases in the one-month period between mid-November to mid-December of 2016 stood at 877, with the claimants demanding total compensation amounting to Rs 328.73 million. However, the actual compensation amount received by the victims stood at a mere Rs 47,246.

Rama Bhattarai, information officer at DoFE, said that they have not been able to ensure full compensation to the victims due to lack of receipts. “Manpower companies tend to give a receipt of a lower amount than what they actually charge the job-seekers,” she said. She also said that the general tendency of trusting individuals rather than seeking proper information from the government offices was one of the reasons for job-seekers falling prey to the wrong elements.

Sarbendra Khanal, SSP at Crime Division of Metropolitan Police, also said that the division had witnessed an upsurge in number of complaints related to foreign job-seekers being duped, but had found that the victims lacked enough documentary evidences to prove their claims.

Advocate Rajesh Bhandari said since many of them don’t have all the required documents, the victims often enter into negotiations with the fraudsters, who in turn keep cheating other people — thereby giving continuity to the vicious cycle.