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Amnesty International has voiced its concerns over recent remarks made by the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), the only umbrella organisation representing 750 recruiting agencies in Nepal.
The human rights group said the NAFEA is against the implementation of existing rules related to labour migration by the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE).
This comes after a NAFEA official said “stricter rules” in securing job permits by the DoFE had discouraged recruitment agencies from sending workers abroad. They claimed the drop in migration figures showed that many were now going abroad through informal channels via India, contravening Nepalese law.
“NAFEA’s remarks are not helpful to the ongoing efforts by civil society, governmental and inter-governmental agencies to promote safe migration in Nepal. The priority for the Nepalese government should be the protection of migrant workers, not ensuring high profits for recruitment agencies by processing migration applications as fast as possible,” said Rameshwar Nepal, director of Amnesty International Nepal.
“Procedures put in place by the Government aimed at reducing contractual deception, including translation of contracts into Nepali, should, if implemented properly, contribute towards reducing the widespread practice of recruiters trafficking migrants for forced labour,” said Mr Nepal.
Amnesty International said that using informal migration routes puts migrant workers at greater risk of exploitation.
“If the drop in migration correlates with an increase in migrants travelling via India to circumvent the formal system, then this is indeed cause for concern. We urge better cooperation between agencies and the governments of Nepal and India to protect migrant workers, including penalties for rogue recruiters who violate the law,” said Mr Nepal.