SRI LANKA: Female migrant-worker expresses harassment in Saudi Arabia
Posted on September 19th, 2017

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION-URGENT APPEAL PROGRAM

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information regarding Mrs. K A Nilanthi Karunarathna. A resident of Baddegama Police Division, she migrated to Saudi Arabia as a domestic helper on 19 January 2015. Within several months at her employer’s house she started to experience severe harassments and complaints. She requested her family members to bring her back to Sri Lanka. The husband made complaints to the Employment Agency which sent her to Saudi Arabia and the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLEFU). None of these authorities have taken any positive steps to help the victim out of the difficult situation she is facing. The husband requests that Officers of The Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE) set up an impartial, independent, professional investigation into his complaint. They should take all means available to protect Nilanthi’s life by bringing her back to Sri Lanka to reunite with her family.

CASE DETAILS:

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information regarding Mrs. K A Nilanthi Karunarathna, of No: 13, Pederu Colony, Halpatota, Baddegama in Galle District. Nilanthi was married to Mr. M W Nihal. They have a daughter, M W Roshani Madumali (17) and a son. She and her husband struggled to raise their two children amid enormous financial difficulties. Finally, she decided to migrate to Saudi Arabia as a domestic helper to alleviate their money problems. Due to their socio-economic status, they could not afford to educate their children and build a house at the same time. Her main target in migrating was to assist her husband in building their own house and to assist both children with higher studies. She left Sri Lanka on 19 January 2015.

Several months after Nilanthi’s departure, her husband Nihal received 8 telephone calls from his wife. She was facing enormous difficulties at her employer’s home. She pleaded with him and her two children to get her back to Sri Lanka at any cost.

Nilanthi said that her both hands were highly irritated from the washing detergent. But the employer did not provide any medical treatment for her injuries. She was stopped from using the telephone to prevent her from complaining to her family about her situation. In addition, the employer confiscated her mobile phone which she brought from Sri Lanka. Showing no compassion, the family, when they left the house, locked her in the washroom to prevent her from running away. One of the employer’s relatives was kind towards Nilanthi. If she visited the house, she allowed her to use her phone to contact her family in Sri Lanka and inform them of her current circumstances.

Immediately Nihal registered a complaint with the employment agency in Sri Lanka, which sent Nilathi to Saudi Arabia. He pleaded with them to bring her back to Sri Lanka. The Employment Agency insisted Nihal that had to stay in Saudi Arabia for one year. This is what she consented to and signed a contract for. However, they did confirm that her salary had not been paid for 2 ½ years. After another year went by, Nihal again requested the Employment Agency to honor their promise and bring his wife back as two years had passed. Later they promised to bring her back after the Ramasan Festival. Not surprisingly, they did not implement their promises.

Meanwhile, Nihal made an official complaint with the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau. His complaint was recorded with reference CD-192-1502 on 9 February 2015. Still no positive action has been taken regarding the case. In early August, Nihal was requested to participate in the court case in Kaduwela Courts in Colombo for the case which SLFEB had filed against the Employment Agency. At this point, the Agency insisted Nihal sign a letter giving consent for his wife to stay in Saudi Arabia. In return, the Employment Agency promised to give him a monetary return. Nihal states that the Employment Agency is violating his rights.

Nihal made three observations: neither the Agency nor the SLFEB took any action to investigate his wife’s harassment in Saudi Arabia: no actions were taken to bring her back to Sri Lanka: no steps were taken to protect her life. He and his children want an independent, efficient investigation into his complaint. Nilanthi’s life must be protected by returning her to Sri Lanka to her family.

Suggested Action:

Please send letters to the Authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case. Request an immediate inquiry into allegations of non-investigation of a complaint by SLBFE officers. All officers involved must be examined by an internal investigation for Criminal Negligence and breach of the Duty of Care. Please appeal to the SLBFE to set up a special investigation into this migrant worker’s case.

To support this case, please click here:

 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: Female migrant-worker expresses harassment in Saudi Arabia

Name of Victims: Mrs. K A Nilanthi Karunarathna, of Pederu Colony, Halpatota, Baddegama in Galle District
2) Two children of the victim, K A Nilanthi Karunarathna and her son
3) M W Nihal, husband of K A Nilanthi Karunarathna

Alleged Perpetrators: Officers of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau
Employment Agency

Date of incident: 19 January 2015
Place of incident: Saudi Arabia

I have received information regarding the case of Mrs. K A Nilanthi Karunarathna, of No: 13, Pederu Colony, Halpatota, Baddegama in Galle District. Nilanthi was married to Mr. M W Nihal. They have a daughter, M W Roshani Madumali (17) and a son. She and her husband struggled to raise their two children amid enormous financial difficulties. Finally, she decided to migrate to Saudi Arabia as a domestic helper to alleviate their money problems. Due to their socio-economic status, they could not afford to educate their children and build a house at the same time. Her main target in migrating was to assist her husband in building their own house and to assist both children with higher studies. She left Sri Lanka on 19 January 2015.

Several months after Nilanthi’s departure, her husband Nihal received 8 telephone calls from his wife. She was facing enormous difficulties at her employer’s home. She pleaded with him and her two children to get her back to Sri Lanka at any cost.

Nilanthi said that her both hands were highly irritated from the washing detergent. But the employer did not provide any medical treatment for her injuries. She was stopped from using the telephone to prevent her from complaining to her family about her situation. In addition, the employer confiscated her mobile phone which she brought from Sri Lanka. Showing no compassion, the family, when they left the house, locked her in the washroom to prevent her from running away. One of the employer’s relatives was kind towards Nilanthi. If she visited the house, she allowed her to use her phone to contact her family in Sri Lanka and inform them of her current circumstances.

Immediately Nihal registered a complaint with the employment agency in Sri Lanka, which sent Nilathi to Saudi Arabia. He pleaded with them to bring her back to Sri Lanka. The Employment Agency insisted Nihal that had to stay in Saudi Arabia for one year. This is what she consented to and signed a contract for. However, they did confirm that her salary had not been paid for 2 ½ years. After another year went by, Nihal again requested the Employment Agency to honor their promise and bring his wife back as two years had passed. Later they promised to bring her back after the Ramasan Festival. Not surprisingly, they did not implement their promises.

Meanwhile, Nihal made an official complaint with the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau. His complaint was recorded with reference CD-192-1502 on 9 February 2015. Still no positive action has been taken regarding the case. In early August, Nihal was requested to participate in the court case in Kaduwela Courts in Colombo for the case which SLFEB had filed against the Employment Agency. At this point, the Agency insisted Nihal sign a letter giving consent for his wife to stay in Saudi Arabia. In return, the Employment Agency promised to give him a monetary return. Nihal states that the Employment Agency is violating his rights.

Nihal made three observations: neither the Agency nor the SLFEB took any action to investigate his wife’s harassment in Saudi Arabia: no actions were taken to bring her back to Sri Lanka: no steps were taken to protect her life. He and his children want an independent, efficient investigation into his complaint. Nilanthi’s life must be protected by returning her to Sri Lanka to her family.

I request the intervention of your good offices. Ensure that the Authorities listed below open an immediate investigation into the following allegations: not investigating a complaint: not taking appropriate actions to protect and provide legal safeguards for the victim’s life in Saudi Arabia. All Officers of the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE) 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
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]

4. 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 Program
Asian Human Rights Commission ([email protected])

2 Responses to “SRI LANKA: Female migrant-worker expresses harassment in Saudi Arabia”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Our greedy foreign exchange seeking politicians are sacrificing our poor to work in the Middle East where there’s large scale exploitation and abuse.
    If they are to help our poor them make it possible to go to EU countries on work permits where there’s some degree of human rights practiced.
    Precedent has a good chance to meet some EU leaders at the UN where they discuss the possibility of our poor going there to work.
    Ban all people going to middle East as unskilled.

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    WHAT IS OUR EMBASSY DOING IN THIS COUNTRY, HAS THE HUSBAN GOT TO RUN LIKE A HEADLESS CHIKEN ASKING FOR HELP ? SHAME. ALL THESE BUGGERS ARE SEATED IN COMFORT, AND CARE LESS FOR A SRILANKA EMPLOYEE TO BE HARRASE. WHY ARE THEY NOT TRAINED TO CALL THE POLICE, WHEN THEY ARE LOCKED UP LIKE A CAGED ANIMAL AT THE ZOO. THE DAMNING EMBASSY SHOULD SUE THE EMPLOYER, AND GET HER TWO AND A HALF YEARS SALARIES, AND COMPENSATION FOR BEING TREATED LIKE AN ANIMAL. SAUDI PEOPLE ARE HEARTLESS PEOPLE. MAY THE LAW OF KARMA VISIT THEM SOON.

    HAS ANYBODY GOT ANY RELIEF WRITING TO THE ABOVE. MY FOOT. THEY DONT CARE A DAMN.

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