The parents’ committee of youth sent to Japan through “learn and earn programme” (LEP) has drafted the Power of Attorney to sue Bhutan Employment Overseas’s (BEO) counterpart SND of Japan.

Committee’s legal representative Ngawang Tobgay said that because of the jurisdiction, the youth and parents cannot sue the counterpart and the lawyers in Japan have come forward to help them.

Ngawang Tobgay said that a Japanese lawyer has showed equal concern to the victimisation of youth through the LEP and to seek justice, five young and one senior lawyers have agreed to sue SND on their behalf.

“The parents and youth have agreed and we would be dispatching the Power of Attorney to Japan soon so that they can initiate the action soon,” he said. “I’m also trying to seek advice from relevant officials on how to go about or if this is legal.”

He added that the counterpart would be also sued on similar criminal charges as the committee had submitted to the Royal Bhutan Police. Some of the charges would be human trafficking and harassment.

“We met the lawyers during our visit to Japan and they usually help foreign workers in Japan. We were introduced to them by a Japanese NGO and during the conversation they had approached to help us.”

Ngawang Tobgay said there is a reason to sue them because they found that SND did not even have an office in Japan or staff and before they were registered as a company, BEO had an agreement with them to send the youth.

“We tried to meet them but there was no one to represent them. SND was supposed to provide jobs as per the agreement, which did not happen,” he said, adding few Bhutanese lawyers have also come forward to support the LEP case for the youth.

The committee had submitted a letter appealing the Chief of Police to register their complaint against the BEO based on five criminal issues on June 27. The police would register the case after Thimphu district police completes the investigation. They are yet to receive a response from police.

The letter claimed that BEO had forged documents, involved in deceptive practices where youth were deceived with guaranteed jobs in Japan, harassed the youth for complaining about the case, abandoned a person in danger through the programme, and also included human trafficking where the youth were exploited.

Meanwhile, labour minister Ugyen Dorji when asked about the government’s comments on the committee’s appeal to police during the Friday Meet, said there is no reaction or comment. Lyonpo said that the government cannot interfere in the matter and would wait for the police to look at the case.

“We’ll comment when necessary and in the due course of time.”

The case came to light last year after the ACC asked the labour ministry to compel BEO to refund translation fees amounting to Nu 3.832 million (M) to the 511 students sent to Japan through the “learn and earn” programme.

The parents’ committee is yet to file a case against the agent in court here. “We will now wait for the police’s decision because if the case is accepted as criminal then we’ll not have to file the civil case.”

Yangchen C Rinzin