EDITORIAL: Criminal alliance

A thorough investigation into the matter is required. Otherwise trafficking in Nepali housemaids would continue as usual

A disturbing revelation has been made by the on-site report of a sub-committee of the parliamentary International Relations and Labour Committee. It reports the involvement of officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in carrying on the illegal migration of Nepali housemaids to Gulf countries. The government, after numerous reports of persecution, sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation, has prevented Nepali women from working as domestic maids in the Gulf countries without a bilateral labour agreement. It is common knowledge that private agents, working with traffickers in other countries, have been illegally taking Nepali women through a number of places to destination countries. But the involvement of the ministry itself, which is blamed for forcing Nepali diplomatic agencies in the Gulf countries to bypass, or even flout, numerous rules made by the Nepal government, provides one of the reasons why the illegal trade in Nepali migrant continues despite all the bans or tough rules.

The report assumes special significance as it has been made by a parliamentary sub-committee. The MoFA involvement is a case of the custodian turning offender. This nexus between government officials and racketeers has made it all the more difficult to stop or minimize the outflow of restricted groups of migrant workers for restricted work in restricted countries. The third amendment to the government’s Directives for Housemaids in April 2016 had barred sending of Nepali girls/women from working as domestic help without a bilateral labour accord. The report also says that MoFA has been implementing certain provisions of the Directives that had already been scrapped by subsequent amendments. The report, while admitting that the actual number of Nepali housemaids working in the Gulf countries cannot be determined, however, states that their number is ‘large’.

No less shocking is another revelation that about 60 percent of such domestic maids took off from Tribhuvan International Airport on tourist visa. That clearly brings into focus further collusion between airport immigration employees, security personnel, airlines employees and other middlemen, including manpower agents. The report adds that the remaining 40 percent of the Nepali housemaids are taken to Gulf countries through India, Sri Lanka, China and African countries. Moreover, such illegal workers are made to pay from Rs.50,000 to Rs.900,000 for a job abroad whereas the government regulation provides  ‘free visa, free ticket’ for Nepali migrant workers bound for six Gulf countries and Malaysia. According to the report based on field visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates between March 16 and 26, Nepali manpower agents often contact job brokers in India or Pakistan rather than the employers themselves, thus inflating the cost of going abroad for work and raising security and other risks for Nepali workers. The report should not be allowed to gather dust, as so many other reports, on some shelves of the various government agencies but promptly acted on to break the criminal alliance of human traffickers of all sorts involved and bring all those guilty to book, first of all government officials. A thorough investigation into the matter is required. Otherwise, after the official ritual, trafficking in Nepali housemaids would continue as usual.

Organ transplant

The Transplant Act, 2016 came into effect but despite this so far the Human Organ Transplant Center in Bhaktapur has carried out only one organ transplant. This is due to the reluctance of the family of the brain dead to donate body organs. In Kathmandu alone there are many brain dead people whose organs could be donated to save thousands of lives. Many brain dead are brought to various hospitals. Most of them have died from traffic accidents. There is a need to raise awareness among the people that donating body organs of the brain dead is not harmful, and they should be encouraged to do so.

The organ transplants have not been carried out due to the lack of coordination among hospitals. Information of the brain dead should immediately be conveyed to a coordination unit of the government. Then the related health institutions should be informed so that the organ transplants can be carried out. Donor hospitals should have the required resources for organ transplant procedures. The coordination unit should store the organs properly.