ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has stopped officially registering persons going to the UAE and Oman on tourist visas taking a higher risk, as well as housemaids and low-skilled categories who find jobs on their own, Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said.
Due to relaxed visa regulations in the UAE and Oman workers were hired after they went to the UAE and visit visas were later converted to work visas, legitimately.
However using the provision, some racketeers were taking women without a formal employment contract and later they got into difficulties or were left stranded without a job, he said.
“We stopped registering persons who go to the above countries on tourist visas,” Minister Nanayakkara told parliament.
“Registering women going for housework on their own means (swer-yung mar-r-ger-yen) to those two countries and women going for lower-skilled work has also been halted.”
If some countries allow visit visas to be converted, is not clear what the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau is trying to achieve by cutting off the chance for those who are taking a higher risk in trying to get a foreign job by going on a tourist visa to register even when they are willing to do so.
The Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau could not help bring back those who had not registered, Minister Nanayakkara said.
However, cabinet approval was obtained recently to help those who were in shelters who had not registered, he
In Oman there were 77 women in a shelter of which 12 persons had gone on tourist visa without registering and 65 others. In Dubai there were 70 women in shelters who had registered and 7 who had gone on tourist visas.
Persons who over-stay visas in Oman also had to pay a 5 riyal a day fine in addition to air tickets, he said.
Sri Lanka is now in the process of busting an alleged sex-trafficking ring where young women were taken to UAE on tourist visas and taken across the border to Oman.
Minister Nanayakkara said the investigations in to the case began around two months ago after Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe sent a team to look into the matter.
Sri Lanka had arrested two persons linked the sex trafficking ring this week, police said.
One person had been arrested after landing in the country on November 19.
“This person was identified some time ago to be involved in human trafficking but he was avoiding the police and was living in abroad for some time,” Senior Superintendent Poliuce Nihal Thalduwa Thalduwa said.
Another female whose identity was revealed after questioning the females in Oman that said to be victims of human trafficking, said to have acted as a translator surrendered herself to the police on Monday.
She had since been bailed out.
“After we received a complaint from the SLBEF, the police started investigating on the case and for further investigations the police sent a team to Oman,” Thalduwa said.
“After taking statements from 45 females who were in a safe house of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Oman, revealed some information regarding traffickers in Sri Lanka who said to be collaborating with some agencies sending these women to Oman,”
M.R.C.B. Ekanayaka, Additional General Manager of Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBEF), said, so far investigations by the SLBEF and Sri Lanka police has led to arresting 69 individuals and 199 cases have been filed against job agencies which had defrauded job seekers.
“We have raided 25 places that were raided and produced to court, and also the licenses of 17 agencies have been canceled permanently for engaging in illegal activities,” Ekanayaka said. (Colombo/Nov21/2022)