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 Post Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 2:50 pm 


@CWM/ SOFE (Solidarity Organization of Foreign Employment)
@ Asian Human Rights Commission
Posted on 2002-09-08

Sathrusinghe Arachchilage Somalatha, a native of Digamadulla in the District of Ampara, left Sri Lanka in May 2002 through the Al Aman Travels Job Agency in Kurunegala with the authority of Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) and had been employed as a domestic by Mrs. Azeeda Al Mishuf under the supervision of Alshad Mohamed Al Dahara Job Agency in Kuwait. Somalatha died on 12 July 2002, six days after she was admitted to Imansima Hospital in Kuwait, and the cause of death has not yet been established.

Thereafter it has been revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka had been informed by the Chairman of the Hospital Board in Kuwait that her Kidneys had been removed in accordance with the provision of Law of Kuwait as per Article No: 55 of 1987 with the approval of the Director of Health Department in Kuwait, having failed to locate her any relatives in Sri Lanka.

It is further revealed that the Government of Kuwait had sent 4.000 Kuwaiti Dinars as compensation, from which SL/Rs. 84,000/- has been spent to fly the body to Sri Lanka. The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) has said that the family members of Somalatha would be paid the balance SL/Rs. 1,158,000/- sent by the Hospital in Kuwait as compensation and other expenses usually paid by the Bureau to Lankan workers who die while being employees overseas.
Having appraised this situation on the basic and common knowledge without even going into much details of this cruel and highhanded action of the Kuwaiti authorities, we feel it is our duty to make the following observations:

1. Somalatha is only a contracted Housemaid employed in Kuwait and definitely not a property or a slave of the Government of Kuwait to be treated in this manner even after her death.

2. Most of the deaths of Sri Lankans employed overseas (especially in Kuwait) have been reported as accidental, which has given rise to lot of suspicion, and we have no faith whatsoever in the post-mortem conducted by the authorities of the country of employment; hence it has been the practice of the Sri Lankan authorities to conduct another post-mortem after the deceased body has been flown to the country, to determine the actual cause of death.

3. It is normally considered a Criminal Act to destroy evidence where a crime has been committed or in a situation that leads to suspicion. Therefore the removal of organic parts from the body of Somalatha should be considered such an act committed by the Kuwaiti authorities as an infringement against the performance of justice for the deceased.

4. In this situation it is also imperative to ascertain the role played by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait. It creates much doubt and suspicion as to the conduct of the Sri Lankan Embassy officials in Kuwait as nothing had been mentioned about their intervention which leads to create very poor impression on the discharge of their responsibilities towards safeguarding the rights and protection of their own countrymen.

5. It is a possibility that the Government and the relevant authorities here and abroad would argue that Somalatha is no more, and what is wrong in removing the kidneys of the deceased when members of her family could obtain a huge payment as compensation, which will provide an opportunity for a better economic life. We wish to state categorically that it is foolish to place arguments in this situation based only on the financial benefits received by the relatives of the deceased, as the end result would lead to a constant threat to the lives of Sri Lankan workers employed in Kuwait.

1. We very strongly caution the Government of Sri Lanka, Officials of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment and other relevant authorities concerned that if they failed to take suitable action immediately to prevent repetition of such an occurrence in the future, the lives of Sri Lankans working in Kuwait will be in danger and there is always a possibility of hearing about more and more 'accidental' deaths from the Kingdom of Kuwait.

2. Everyone to be alert and cautious, as there could be possibilities that the Government of Kuwait could make use of this draconian law to get consent from those working in Kuwait and also from those who seek employment, as a prerequisite to obtain employment in Kuwait

1. To the Government of Sri Lanka to institute a comprehensive inquiry into the death of Somalatha, and more importantly, as to the involvement of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait and what role they have played in the discharge of their responsibilities in this regard.

2. To the Non-Governmental Organizations (national and international) to launch an awareness raising campaign among migrant workers, dependents and aspirants (would be migrants) to make them realize the dangers involved and threats leveled against lives due to this situation prevailing in Kuwait and to be alert and take every precaution possible to safeguard their lives.

3. To the media to follow up very closely on the outcome of the post-mortem and the inquiries being conducted in this connection and to keep the general public informed of the new developments taking place.

Posted on 2002-09-08

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