SRI LANKA: Mother Seeks Justice for the death of her migrant-worker daughter in Kuwait
Posted on June 22nd, 2017

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information regarding Mrs. Siranji Siriyawathi Fernando. A resident of Chilaw, she migrated to Kuwait as a domestic helper in 2014. On 15 June, 2017 an official in the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau in Colombo informed Mrs. K Sumanawathi that her daughter had passed away in Kuwait. On the same day, the victim’s mother filed a complaint with the Chilaw Headquarters Police Station. She demanded that the Police Authorities set up an impartial and independent investigation into the death of her daughter.  AND SHE SEEKS JUSTICE.
CASE DETAILS:

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information regarding Mrs. Siranji Siriyawathi Fernando (29) of Kanjukuliya, Chilaw in the Puttalam District. Siranji was a widow, her husband having died early in their marriage. They had two children, a daughter and a son. Siranji struggled to raise her two children with her mother’s help. Finally, she decided to migrate to Kuwait as a domestic helper to alleviate the severe financial difficulties she faced. She left Sri Lanka on 28 December 2014.

Three months into her job with her Kuwaiti employer, she faced relentless harassment from him. On several occasions she phoned her mother about the difficulties she was experiencing. She strongly suggested that her mother make a complaint to the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE) in Colombo. She should request their assistance in relieving her dismal situation.

In April, the situation worsened. Her employer threatened to kill her. On 10 June 2017, Siranji again called her mother. She said that in addition to her main employer, the family members also made death threats against her. She is TERRORIZED and IN FEAR OF HER LIFE.

She pleaded with her mother to save her life. She urged her mother to return to the offices of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau in Colombo and urgently request their assistance in bringing her back to Sri Lanka. The mother, Sumanawathi, went to the SLBFE and filed a written complaint. She pleaded with the officers to extricate her daughter from the dangerous situation she was in AND facilitate the return of her daughter to Sri Lanka immediately. She expressed concern about the fate of her two grandchildren. If her daughter died then the children would have no parents. She requested them to quickly take all necessary actions to bring her daughter back safely to Sri Lanka.

On the morning of 15 June, SLBFE Officers called her and informed her that Siranji was dead. They were awaiting the reception of the body to be handed over to her. The officers offered a further clarification. According to the Sri Lankan-Kuwaiti Embassy staff, her daughter Siranji’s death occurred due to strangulation by hanging. A suicide? Murder?

Sumanawathi states that she can never accept the suicide explanation given as the reason for her daughter’s death. She refutes their explanation. She wants justice. This can be done by initiating an official, independent, impartial and efficient INVESTIGATION into her daughter’s death. She is demanding an extensive Death Inquest, including a post-mortem by Sri Lankan authorities. The alleged family culprits must be searched out, held responsible before the Law and punished for their actions. In all of this, two children have lost their mother and compassion dictates adequate compensation is given for their future.

She vehemently accused the SLBFE Authority and its Officers of overt Negligence. If the Authorities had comprehensively looked into the employer’s harassment in a timely manner, her daughter would still be alive. Her life and the lives of her two children would have been saved. Siranji comes from a low- economic background. Is this why she is being denied her right to justice? Is this why Sri Lanka’s highest Authority is denying her justice??
Suggested Action:

Please send letters to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case. Request an immediate inquiry into the allegations of non-investigation of a complaint by the SLBFE officers. All officers involved must be examined by an internal investigation for breach of Duty of Care. Finally, please appeal to the SLBFE and the Inspector General of Police to set up a special investigation into the death of this migrant worker.

To support this case, please click here:

 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: Mother Seeks Justice for the death of her migrant-worker daughter in Kuwait
Name of Victims:

1) Mrs. Siranji Siriyawathi Fernando (29) of Kanjukuliya, Chilaw in the Puttalam District
2) Two children of the victim Siranji Siriyawathi Fernando
3) K Sumanawathi of Kanjukuliya, Chilaw in the Puttalam District, the mother of the victim
Alleged Perpetrators: Officers at The Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau

Date of incident: 15 June 2017
Place of incident: Kuwait

According to information I have received regarding Mrs. Siranji Siriyawathi Fernando (29) of Kanjukuliya, Chilaw in the Puttalam District. Siranji was a widow, her husband having died early in their marriage. They had two children, a daughter and a son. Siranji struggled to raise her two children with her mother’s help. Finally, she decided to migrate to Kuwait as a domestic helper to alleviate the severe financial difficulties she faced. She left Sri Lanka on 28 December 2014.

Three months into her job with her Kuwaiti employer, she faced relentless harassment from him. On several occasions she phoned her mother about the difficulties she was experiencing. She strongly suggested that her mother make a complaint to the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE) in Colombo. She should request their assistance in relieving her dismal situation.

In April, the situation worsened. Her employer threatened to kill her. On 10 June 2017, Siranji again called her mother. She said that in addition to her main employer, the family members also made death threats against her. She is TERRORIZED and IN FEAR OF HER LIFE.

She pleaded with her mother to save her life. She urged her mother to return to the offices of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau in Colombo and urgently request their assistance in bringing her back to Sri Lanka. The mother, Sumanawathi, went to the SLBFE and filed a written complaint. She pleaded with the officers to extricate her daughter from the dangerous situation she was in AND facilitate the return of her daughter to Sri Lanka immediately. She expressed concern about the fate of her two grandchildren. If her daughter died then the children would have no parents. She requested them to quickly take all necessary actions to bring her daughter back safely to Sri Lanka.

On the morning of 15 June, SLBFE Officers called her and informed her that Siranji was dead. They were awaiting the reception of the body to be handed over to her. The officers offered a further clarification. According to the Sri Lankan-Kuwaiti Embassy staff, her daughter Siranji’s death occurred due to strangulation by hanging. A suicide? Murder?

Sumanawathi states that she can never accept the suicide explanation given as the reason for her daughter’s death. She refutes their explanation. She wants justice. This can be done by initiating an official, independent, impartial and efficient INVESTIGATION into her daughter’s death. She is demanding an extensive Death Inquest, including a post-mortem by Sri Lankan authorities. The alleged family culprits must be searched out, held responsible before the Law and punished for their actions. In all of this, two children have lost their mother and compassion dictates adequate compensation is given for their future.

She vehemently accused the SLBFE Authority and its Officers of overt Negligence. If the Authorities had comprehensively looked into the employer’s harassment in a timely manner, her daughter would still be alive. Her life and the lives of her two children would have been saved. Siranji comes from a low- economic background. Is this why she is being denied her right to justice? Is this why Sri Lanka’s highest Authority is denying her justice??

I request the intervention of your good offices. Ensure that the authorities listed below open an immediate investigation into allegations of violations of the rights of the victim by Officers of the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE). All officers involved should be subject to an internal investigation.

Yours sincerely,

———————
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

  1. Mr. Pujith Jayasundara
    Inspector General of Police
    New Secretariat
    Colombo 1
    SRI LANKA
    Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
    E-mail: [email protected]
  2. Mr. Jayantha Jayasooriya PC
    Attorney General
    Attorney General’s Department
    Colombo 12
    SRI LANKA
    Fax: +94 11 2 436421
    E-mail: [email protected]
  3. Secretary
    National Police Commission
    3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
    109 Galle Road
    Colombo 03
    SRI LANKA
    Tel: +94 11 2 395310
    Fax: +94 11 2 395867
    E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]
  4. Secretary
    Human Rights Commission
    No. 36, Kynsey Road
    Colombo 8
    SRI LANKA
    Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
    Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
    E-mail: [email protected]
  5. Mr. R. K. Obeyesekere
    Chairman
    Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment
    No: 234
    Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha
    Koswatta, Battaramulla
    Email: [email protected]

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission ([email protected])

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One Response to “SRI LANKA: Mother Seeks Justice for the death of her migrant-worker daughter in Kuwait”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Why send our humble people to these countries?
    In 1979 when my dad died my late sister’s boss in Kuwait never allow her to leave Kuwait for the funeral.
    She was his confidential secretary.
    I got my back when he visited us here in UK where after dinner I took him for a drive on that cold day and stopped my car by the motor way where I asked him to check my tyres and when he got out I left I’m out in the cold, miles from any help. I do that to nasty people.
    We should never send people to work. Our Dept wanted to work in those countries with generous benefits but I never took any offers. One must have some self respect, unlike our Ambuda brigades that run our countries.

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