The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Friday, November 27, 2009

Maids Hunting in Bhutan

27 November, 2009 - If you have managed to smuggle a maid or a babysitter from across the border in the trunk of your car or a military vehicle, it may be time to send them home.

The department of immigration has notified to declare all illegal maids and workers and register them with the nearest immigration office, before they conduct a surprise spot check. Anybody found hiding an illegal worker or a maid would be penalised according to the Immigration Act.

The department has already cleared with the courts and will raid houses, commercial and private work premises, looking for illegal workers, according to the department’s joint director, Rinzin Wangchuk. “There are so many illegal workers like maids, babysitters and others, but we couldn’t control them for so long. Now we’re serious,” said the joint director, adding that the court has accepted their requests to issue search warrants. “Anyone violating the Act will be fined Nu 10,000 on the spot.”

However, to let illegal workers prepare for their departure, the department asks all concerned to register their workers before January 31, 2010. “They’ll need time to settle their payment, salaries or dues. After registration, they can repatriate the workers without having to pay any fines,” said the director.

There is no study or research done on the number of illegal workers present in the country, but Rinzin Wangchuk said that almost every house an illegal worker. “Most of the illegal workers are under-age and therefore fall under child labour. Child labour is prohibited by law.”

Officials said that many illegal workers were smuggled in the country by cheating the authorities. “Most are brought in military vehicles. Some even hide maids in the trunk of their cars,” said the official. A few months ago, the department had asked all non-national wet cleaners to leave the country.


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