The Amnesty International has asked the Nepal government to take urgent steps to protect Nepali migrant workers being trafficked to foreign countries for forced labour and other types of exploitation.
“Rogue Nepalese recruitment agencies are trafficking Nepalese for exploitation and forced labour in the Gulf States and Malaysia,” the global rights watchdog said in a new report, calling on the Nepal government to improve protection of its migrant workers.
The report ‘False Promises: Exploitation and forced labour of Nepalese migrant workers’ highlights the fate of prospective migrants who take out large loans to pay recruitment fees to secure a job overseas, unaware that recruitment agencies are deceiving them about the work, pay and conditions they are signing up to.
The AI interviewed nearly 150 migrant workers and found that 90 per cent had been deceived by recruitment agencies regarding their employment contract. “Some had to work without rest days, in dangerous conditions, or received salaries of less than half of what was promised,” said the report.
“Nepalese people seek a better life abroad but fail before they even leave home, as recruitment agents – who earn huge profits – deceive them regarding their terms of contract, which is a key element in trafficking,” said Norma Kang Muico, Amnesty International’s Researcher for Asia-Pacific Migrants’ Rights.
“By the time they find out the true nature of their work, many are already trapped, saddled with large loans from private lenders with annual interest rates of up to 60 per cent.” The AI also mentioned that manpower agencies charge an average NPR 100,000 (US$1,400) for their services, three times the per capita income of Nepal.
The AI also mentioned that migrants facing exploitation or forced labour who sought assistance from recruitment agencies or the government authorities received little support. Recruitment agencies even endorsed employers’ common practice of confiscating passports, which facilitates abuse.
“Nepalese women face restrictions to working abroad which increase their vulnerability. Intermittent bans on domestic work and a requirement to seek family permission prior to migrating, force women to migrate through irregular channels or become ‘undocumented’,” the report said.
Norma Kang Muico said the Nepal government must end discriminatory practices that force women migrants underground and leave them at greater risk of exploitation, without the protections available to regular migrants. nepalnews.com