Inquiries by the department of adult and higher education (DAHE) and the labour ministry into an allegation of Bhutanese being exploited in the Independent State of Samoa did not lead anywhere.

The labour ministry investigated after it received an anonymous email early this month alleging that Sergyel Consultancy sent Bhutanese people to the Independent state of Samoa. The email, which was sent to multiple addresses by one Sonam Bobby from Thimphu alleged that the consultancy firm has sent many Bhutanese as housemaids illegally who are now being exploited in Samoa. He alleged that there are Bhutanese people working illegally in Samoa under the pretext of being students.

A labour official said that the proprietor of the consultancy, Samten Dendup who was contacted through Facebook, refuted the allegation of sending any Bhutanese to Samoa illegally. This is the same consultancy firm, which was accused of sending Bhutanese girls to Kuwait as housemaids. The Bhutanese girls were rescued and brought home but the proprietor is still at large.

Sergyel Consultancy is a registered Education Consultancy with the Ministry of Education and International Visa Outsourcing Agent authorised by the Regional Trade and Industry Office.

The labour official said that after receiving the viral email, the ministry made all the efforts to enquire.

“We visited the consultancy office in Thimphu but found that the office was shut down and the proprietor’s phone was switched off,” the labour official said. “We tried to contact the proprietor but was able to contact only through his personal Facebook account.”

The official added that while Samten Dendup refused to share his whereabouts upon ‘enquiring the Samoa case,’ he refuted the accusation made against him saying that he has never placed any Bhutanese in Samoa as of now.

Samoa is located south of the equator in the Polynesian region of the Pacific ocean.

Although labour ministry makes repeated notification informing the public to seek advice on any overseas work related placements before confirmation and departure, the official said that not many consult the ministry.

“If such cases or allegations against any overseas employment agencies registered with the ministry comes to us, it is easier to enquire and look into the allegations,” the official said.

An official from DAHE said that after receiving information from labour ministry, the department tried to look into the issue but found no basis or evidence to take any official action against the proprietor.

With the proprietor refuting the allegations, both DAHE and the labour ministry could not confirm if the allegation was true or fake.

“The mail that we received had email address of few Samoa government officials and we wrote to them asking if they could let us know of any Bhutanese working there illegally,” the official said. “But none of the emails received a response.”

Today, a total of 2,913 female and 1,345 male Bhutanese are working overseas in 14 countries including India, Israel, and the UAE.

Yangchen C Rinzin