Parents and youth sent to Japan through the “learn and earn programme” yesterday submitted a letter appealing the Chief of Police to register their complaint against the Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) based on five criminal issues.

However, the Chief of Police, Brigadier Chimi Dorji forwarded the case to the Thimphu superintendent (SP) of police to review the case if it warrants an investigation.

Brigadier Chimi Dorji said that any case that comes to police should have a criminal element for it be registered as a complaint.

“Thimphu SP and the team will study the case in depth and if it is a criminal case then the police will register and deal accordingly,” he said. “I cannot take the decision on the spot to register it as a criminal case because this case has already been forwarded to OAG by the Anti-Corruption Commission.”

About 100 parents’ committee members and youth gathered at the Memorial Choeten and later headed to the Royal Bhutan Police headquarters. As the committee’s lawyer, Nawang Tobgay explained the case to the police chief, the parents and youth waited outside.

Brigadier Chimi Dorji said that since the case is with the OAG, the police will have to make sure that there is no duplication of the case and that the review team will not look into issues, which are already covered by the ACC. “After the review, we will also consult the ACC to authenticate the evidences submitted by the committee. The case was in light for almost a year and if there were criminal elements, ACC would’ve forwarded to the police.”

The letter submitted to the police chief 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.

Lawyer Nawang Tobgay said that while they were drafting a 15-page letter to appeal to the court as a civil case, they realised that the case was more of criminal in nature and decided to register the case with police.

“The civil case would only compensate the youth but there will be no punishment to the agent and they should be punished,” the lawyer said. “However, we’ll go by the police investigation and their findings.”

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 also yet to file a case against the agent to the court. “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.”

In an earlier interview with the Kuensel, the OAG had said that they are waiting for one of the statements from former labour minister’s niece to complete the review on whether the case merits prosecution.

The ACC has sought statement from the former minister’s niece who is in Japan and is yet to receive the statement, which would later be submitted to the OAG.

Yangchen C Rinzin