44 out of 52 Indian nationals unlawfully detained by their former employer, Al-Sacr Al-Jaher returned to India on Monday 29th of September 2014 following payment of $1,000 for each of the men demanded by Al-Sacr Al-Jaher for alleged breach of contract.
Eight of the Indian nationals continue to be detained by Al-Sacr Al-Jaher. We at Nyaya UK are continuing to provide help and support to the remaining men.
This case is a gross abuse of human rights and nothing short of enslavement and absolute humiliation of these 52 Indian nationals. These men were deprived of their basic human rights and dignity. The owners and directors of Al- Sacr Al- Jaher should be ashamed of themselves and made to account for their torturous treatment of these men. Nothing whatsoever justifies the callous and inhumane actions taken against the men.
These men were held to ransom; Al-Sacr Al-Jaher insisted that the men each pay $1,000 for their alleged breach of contract – and yet Al-Sacr Al-Jaher failed to pay the men’s contractual salary from the outset, unilaterally changed their employment contracts and withheld their income together for the last three months and abused them. Al-Sacr Al-Jaher should have compensated them – not the other way round!
It is of considerable concern that that the Indian Embassy in Iraq failed to intervene swiftly and robustly to safeguard the interest of their nationals. They were unsympathetic to the plight of the men. I expect the Indian officials to stand up to the company. Consular service was severely lacking and slow when it eventually became available. Communication by the Embassy staff with the men was extremely poor. They were not kept informed which added to their anxiety whilst held hostage. The men were having to contact family, friends and others for information and updates.
This and simliar recent cases of Indian nationals stranded abroad disclose the following problems in relation to recruitment agents which must be investigated and addressed by the Indian authorities:
1. India recruitment agencies are unregulated and in most cases unqualified; their sole priority and motive is to profit. They are not interested in the welfare or the plight of the contractors.
2. The agents misinform and misrepresent information to the Indian contractors and provide them with inappropriate visas to travel to these forsaken countries who treat the contractors as slaves if not worse. Often the contractors are uneducated, illiterate and desperate to work abroad to support their families in India. They do not realise the perils of working abroad.They have no provisions to access medical treatment in the case of accidents and or subjected to other health emergencies.
3. Indian nationals are expolited on several levels, firstly by the Indian ‘recruitment agents’ in India; secondly by the ‘recruitment agents’ in the countries they are travelling to work in; thirdly by their employers in the countries they have travelled to work in; fourthly by the Indian Missions who fail to represent the interest of the Indian nationals.
4. The Indian authorities must regulate and licence recruitment agencies to ensure they provide a professional service. The recruitment agencies in this case were unable to provide signed copies of the contracts the men were supposed to have signed.