Punish the fraudsters

Published On: January 6, 2020 08:19 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

It’s unfortunate that a larger number of people are cheated by agents, often associated with foreign employment agencies, in the name of foreign employment in Nepal. There is a consistent pattern. People are offered well-paying jobs in destinations such as Dubai, Japan, Korea even the United States. In return, they demand huge money, often in millions, as fee to enable their entry in those destinations. The agents ensure that their jobs will be perfectly legal and that they will be provided all facilities in workplaces. But soon either the agents disappear after taking in a lot of money or the victims realize, often only upon reaching the destinations or half way, that they have been duped. There is a legal provision to book such fraudsters. The victims can file cases in the courts. And courts usually give verdict in favor of the victims. But since such verdicts are rarely implemented, taking the legal course becomes yet another fruitless exercise on the part of the victims.

According to an investigative report related with work abroad scams published in this daily on Sunday, 80 percent of court verdicts given in favor of the victims are never implemented. Even in remaining 20 percent, victims are hardly able to recover the money extracted by the agents. One such case relates to Amrita Dhakal, 32, of Gorkha district. A fraudster approached her with dream job that could provide her Rs 300,000 a month in Japan. She fell into this temptation and sold off her clothing store, which was bringing her a steady income, to pay to the fraudster. Only then she realized that she was being duped and filed a case at the court. The court gave a verdict in her favor too, slapping the culprit with one-and-a-half years of jail plus Rs 4.6 million payable compensation to her. But as things stand, neither the perpetrator has been jailed nor has she received the money. The investigative report has listed a number of such cases, in which the victims are cheated and culprits walk scot-free. According to an annual report of the Supreme Court from mid-July 2009 to mid-July 2018, a total of 1,304 cases of employment fraud were filed. Of these, 318 are still being looked into and the court has yet to recover Rs 96.8 million from the culprits.

Part of the problem seems to lie with the legal provision itself. Foreign Employment Tribunal Act has it that the victims themselves have to locate the addresses of the fraudsters and ascertain details of their property for them to recover their money. But since most victims fail to trace the culprits, the provision of Foreign Employment Act that makes the defaulter pay back along with a penalty of 50 percent of the amount taken remains unimplemented. Besides, many victims have no clue that there is a legal redress to such cases. Many others are simply unaware of whether the verdicts have been ruled and the courts have provided justice. This lack of communication leaves the victims high and dry.  While amending this faulty legal provision may be a long term solution, the government authorities have to be more serious about providing justice to the victims. There should be a massive awareness drive to educate the people against paying money to just anyone who promises foreign employment. But more than that, there has to be assurance from the state that every person who cheats people is jailed and that every court decision in favor of the victim is implemented. To be cheated on the promise of gainful employment is a tragedy in itself. To be deprived of justice even more so. But when the state fails to implement the verdicts given by the courts, it amounts to nothing less than mockery of justice.

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