Lankan migrant workers to be fingerprinted
Sri Lanka is introducing an electronic fingerprinting system for migrant workers to retain their personal identification data for reference both here and abroad. Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) Chairman Amal Senadhilankara told the Business Times that this system will apply mainly for Middle East job seekers who have to face various difficulties in the event of losing their passports in those countries.
Fingerprinting devices would be installed at the SLFEB and at all Sri Lankan diplomatic missions in the Middle East where there are large numbers of Sri Lankan workers, he added. Mr. Senadhilankara said that Sri Lankan diplomatic missions in the Middle East found it difficult to obtain correct and accurate personal data from some domestic workers to issue temporary passports following the loss of their original passports.
The new system will also help to prevent fraudulent practices such as using forged passports and irregularities in the foreign employment sector, he added. The Bureau will use special software to store fingerprint data of the migrant workers going abroad for employment and returning to the country, he revealed.
The electronic fingerprinting system will also help in the ongoing blacklisting of migrant workers who return to the island after being convicted in the Middle Eastern countries for various offences. Most of these workers had been found guilty for allegedly over-staying visas, robbery, engaging in prostitution and flouting the laws of the country where they were employed. They are all to be blacklisted, he said. He pointed out that escaping from their employers had become a racket among the housemaids and the Bureau is receiving regular reports of such incidents regularly. With the blacklisting system, these workers would be prohibited from obtaining foreign employment in the Middle East and thereby they could minimise the number of issues surfacing in those countries relating to migrant workers, he disclosed.
Mr. Senadhilankara said that migrant workers, who return to Sri Lanka with a criminal record, would be fingerprinted both at the SLBFE office in Colombo as well as at the respective Lankan missions in the host countries. However he noted that the new electronic fingerprinting system is still at the planning stage and it will take some time to develop the necessary software and computer networking as well as online (web based) connections. Initially Middle East job seekers will be finger printed at the Bureau and later it would be introduced among all foreign job seekers (to other countries), when they visit the SLFEB for registration for overseas jobs, he revealed.
There are currently 1.7 million migrant workers from Sri Lanka mostly in the Middle East with around 500,000 employed in Saudi Arabia.
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