By S.S. Selvanayagam
The Supreme Court yesterday re-fixed for hearing on 1 November the Fundamental Rights petition filed by aggrieved Managing Directress of a foreign employment recruiting agency, complaining that she had been singled out and arbitrarily arrested without any cogent evidence allegedly for trafficking.
The matter came up before the Bench comprising Chief Justice Shirani A. Bandaranayake and Justices P.A. Ratnayake and Priyasath Dep. Petitioner S.N.M.N. Damayanthi Kumari Daugla, who is the MD of Nilushan Recruiting (Pvt) Ltd., cited IP Sanjaya Perera who is the OIC of the division to investigate matters pertaining to the illegal migration of persons through sea routes of the CID, the Director of CID M.K.D.W. Amarasinghe, the IGP and Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE).
She also cited Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera, Ministry Secretary Col. Nissanka Wijeratne, the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies and its Secretary Faizer Makeen, Asanga Ranaweera who is at present at Starlight Frontier SDN BHD of Malaysia and the Attorney General as Respondents.
Sanjeewa Jayawardena with Rajeev Amarasuriya instructed by G.G. Arulpragasam appeared for the Petitioner. Deputy Solicitor General Sanjay Rajaratnam appeared for the Attorney General.
Petitioner states she since the inception of her company in 1995, it has been lawfully engaged in the business of a duly licensed foreign employment agency and to date has facilitated the placement and foreign employment of probably 3,200 Sri Lankans.
She was arrested on 28 February 2011 by the 1st Respondent IP Sanjaya Perera as being a suspect of committing an offence of alleged trafficking and was enlarged on Rs 2,000,000 cash bail.
She alleged that her purported arrest was arbitrary, ad-hoc, unreasonable and discriminatory in the absence of any objective, cogent evidence or material whatsoever for allegedly having engaged in the commission of or the aiding and abetting the commission of the offence of trafficking.
She brought the cognisance that the net revenue earned by the country through the foreign employment industry was enormous, to the tune of US$ 3.6 million, and that there were 1.8 million registered migrant workers in over several countries.
She said the foreign employment market in Malaysia was a significant contributor to employment opportunities for Sri Lankans in recent years in the wake of the turmoil that has embroiled the Middle East.
She claims her company has thus far sent close upon 500 migrant workers to Malaysia in accordance with the procedure laid down by the SLBFE, which is heavily regulated with multiple checks at every turn.
She states that she received notice on 11 February 2011 from the 1st Respondent IP Sanjaya Perera and that there had been a concerted effort to harass several licensed foreign employment agents on the purported misconceived basis that they were involved in human trafficking.
She on an urgent basis requested a meeting with Minister Dilan Perera, which was subsequently held on 16 February 2011 at the Ministry along with the Director of CID, the Chairman as well as the General Manager of the SLBFE and a number of licensed foreign employment agents in Kurunegala.
At the said meeting, it was revealed by the Director of CID that the 9th Respondent Asanga Ranaweera had purported to complain that he was not receiving his salary to his hand and that his employer Starlight Frontier was instead misappropriating his earnings and that he had been sent without a contract being signed, which the Petitioner Kumari Daulagala maintains are grossly inaccurate.