10-year jail for deceiving overseas job seekers
Cabinet clears draft overseas employment lawStaff Correspondent
The cabinet on Monday finally endorsed the draft Overseas Employment and Migrant Workers Bill, 2013 incorporating a provision for maximum 10-year imprisonment and at least Tk five lakh in fine for violation of the proposed law in sending workers abroad.
The expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry placed the draft at the weekly cabinet meeting with the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, in the chair at the secretariat, seeking the final approval after the law ministry’s vetting.
‘The cabinet has approved the draft overseas employment and migrant workers law. The Emigration Ordinance, 1982 has been updated with tougher provisions to ensure safe emigration and the welfare of the migrant workers,’ cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told a press briefing.
He said that the draft law had also proposed seven years of imprisonment and minimum Tk three lakh in fine for forgery in the demand letter or visa processing or work permit for migrant workers. Similar punishment has been proposed for deceptive advertisements by any recruiting agencies to attract workers to overseas jobs, the cabinet secretary said.
The cabinet approved the draft law in principle on April 15 against the backdrop of massive irregularities and influence of middlemen in the recruitment of migrant workers.
The new law would allow the migrant workers to file cases directly against the recruiting agencies involved in fraudulence and other irregularities, a senior official concerned told New Age.
‘The existing law does not allow a migrant worker to file a case without approval from the manpower bureau. Moreover, only four special courts in four [old] divisions could receive such cases,’ the official added.
The draft proposed repeal of Emigration Ordinance of 1982 and on the other hand incorporated provisions for stringent punishments for recruiting agencies involved in fraudulence to check irregularities in the manpower sector that had expanded in the last 30 years.
Around 85 lakh Bangladeshi expatriates, mostly in the Middle-East countries, remit around $14 billion annually. More than 1,200 private agencies are engaged in recruiting workers for overseas jobs.
Many of the overseas job aspirants have to face various types of hassles as the law could not hold the recruiting agencies accountable for their activities, said officials.
The existing law enacted in 1982 has the provision for maximum one year imprisonment and highest Tk 5,000 fine for violation of the law in migration of workers.
The cabinet secretary said the new law would make the activities of the recruiting agencies transparent and ensure their accountability and also protect the rights and interests of the migrant workers.
The cheated migrant workers will now have the opportunity to go to courts seeking redress and the offences under the proposed law will be included in the schedule of the Mobile Court Act 2009 for quick disposal of cases, according to officials.
The court will have to dispose of the cases filed by migrant workers or overseas job seekers in four months after the charge framing and in case of failure to do so it will have to record a reasonable ground to get two more months, according to the draft.
The draft law contains 61 clauses in seven sections.
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