Sri Lankan nationals seeking jobs in Oman will now have to undergo electronic fingerprinting and biometric scanning prior to their departure. The move aims at cracking down on rampant fraud and other irregularities in the recruitment process, a senior official of the Sri Lankan Embassy, Muscat, said.
The new system will help prevent fraudulent practices such as using forged passports. “Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) is using special software to store fingerprint data of the migrant workers going abroad for employment,” M.M. Deshapriya, the Counsellor of Labour at Sri Lankan Embassy in Muscat, told Times of Oman.
It is learnt that the Sri Lankan government was forced to introduce this new system after busting several rackets where Sri Lankan nationals had secured employment in Middle East, including Oman, by submitting forged certificates.
In December 2012, police officers of Colombo Fraud Bureau had arrested four people, including a woman, from a house in Colombo, and they were found in possession of 300 forged medical certificates. It was revealed that these certificates were issued by various medical institutes.
In addition, an English typewriter, two forged rubber stamps similar to those used by government-registered medical institutions, two passports, and numerous certificates were seized by the police.
Initial investigations by the police revealed that the accused had charged big sums of money from people who had failed medical examinations for Middle East, by providing them with forged medical certificates.
Housemaids and those working in the hospitality industry in particular are required to undergo strict medical tests before being issued a work visa for countries in Middle East, including Oman. “Now, this fingerprinting system for migrant workers will help us in retaining their personal identification data for reference,” Deshapriya said.
This system will also help jobseekers who face difficulties in the event of losing their passports in those countries.
“The electronic fingerprinting system will also help in the ongoing blacklisting of migrant workers who return to Sri Lanka after being convicted in crimes for various offences. Most of these workers had been found guilty of over-staying their visas, robbery, engaging in prostitution and flouting the laws of Oman,” the Sri Lankan Embassy official said.
Then there are cases where some housemaids have the habit of running away from their employers regularly. “With the blacklisting system, these workers would be prohibited from obtaining foreign employment and thereby they could minimise the number of issues relating to migrant workers,” the official added.
There are currently 1.8 million migrant workers from Sri Lanka mostly in the Middle East with around 30,000 employed in Oman, of which 17,000 are working as housemaids, Times of Oman reports.