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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

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Moves to secure rights of Lankan migrant workers

Discussions are underway between the External Affairs Ministry and Foreign Employment Ministry to strengthen and promote the human rights of Sri Lankan migrant workers through comprehensive bilateral action plans and improved immigration procedures, External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunathilaka Amunugama said.

He said measures are being taken to streamline the recruitment process of migrant workers, said Amunugama.

The beheading of Rizana Nafeeq has clearly given new impetus to enforce new laws and action plans to protect Sri Lankan women migrant workers, Amunugama said.

Rizana’s execution has stirred anger in Sri Lanka and beyond.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ahmed Aflal Jawad, who was recalled by the government following Rizana’s execution is yet to arrive in the country.

Amunugama said, “We will be aggressive in promoting the government policy of reducing the number of female workers who migrate for jobs as domestic aides in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Asked if the External Affairs Ministry had done enough to save Rizana Nafeeq, Amungama said the government did all it could to save Rizana from the executioner’s blade, but she was subjected to the Sharia Law .

“We have expressed our displeasure over the execution of Nafeeq,” he said. The international community and human rights fronts too expressed their dismay at her execution. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were among them.

She was executed in spite of many requests made by governments to the Saudi state to pardon her. President Mahinda Rajapaksa appealed twice to get Rizana released from her sentence on account of irregularities in her detention and that she was an underaged girl at the time she was arrested on charges of killing the infant boy of her employer. Asked if the government was considering to get all or some of its women migrant workers in Saudi return to the country over this issue, Amunugama said, there are over 500,000 Sri Lankan domestic aides working in Saudi and they have not made any such request.

However, we will will continue to promote the government policy of bringing down the the numbers of Sri Lankan women leaving for other countries as domestic aides. “Action will also be taken on securing their chances to obtain justice in Saudi Arabia,” he explained.

Foreign Employment and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera announced that the minimum age for women seeking housemaid jobs abroad has been raised from 21 years to 25 in keeping with the government policy of reducing the number of females going abroad as domestic workers, he added.

 

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