Government of Sierra Leone News Release
Ambassador to Kuwait on Recruitment of Sierra Leonean House Maids
By M.B. Jalloh (Diplomatic Press Attache)
Putting the records straight
The Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in the State of Kuwait was established in 2009 to strengthen the cordial bilateral relations between the two countries.
In May 2010, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was invited by His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait. During His Excellency’s three days official visit, several bilateral agreements were signed between Sierra Leone and Kuwait. The indefatigable Ambassador and Embassy staff did not only pursue the implementation of the signed Agreements, but continued to rebrand Sierra Leone in that Gulf State and the other countries of their accreditations.
Also, as part of the Mission’s Performance Contract with the Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in 2010, the Embassy promised the latter to facilitate job opportunities for Sierra Leonean youths. In view of this, the Embassy engaged several reputable companies in the State of Kuwait for employment opportunities.
One of them, Tanzifco Company expressed interest in manpower recruitment from Sierra Leone. After checking the background of the company, the Chief Executive Officer of the Company, the Late Mr. Mustapha Al-Ayan was encouraged by the Embassy to visit Sierra Leone after consultations with the Foreign Office in Freetown. The CEO visited Sierra Leone in 2011 and 2012 respectively. During his visits, Mr. Al-Ayan held discussions with the late Minister of Labour, Mr. Hindolo Tyre and other stakeholders on the terms and conditions of the recruitment. The process commenced in 2012.
“Over 140 Sierra Leonean youths have benefited from the programme and the Embassy is not receiving any complain from this category of workers,” Sulaiman Turay, Acting Head of Chancery told me.
Recruitment of Housemaids
In late 2013, several housemaids recruiting agencies approached the Embassy for the recruitment of housemaids from Sierra Leone. Having read both local and international tabloids on maid’s predicament in this part of the world, the Embassy vehemently rejected their offers. It was therefore a shock when the Mission heard that a batch of Sierra Leonean housemaids have arrived in Kuwait without reference to the Embassy. According to documents, the transaction of maid’s recruitment was purely between the Ministry of Labour of Sierra Leone and the local agents and their partners in Kuwait.
Upon arrival in Kuwait, investigations reveal, the maids are put on sale in the Market by the recruiting agencies. A Sierra Leonean maid costs $3500 – 4000 for a period of two years.
During this period, the recruiting agent has no control over the said maid. In fact, she becomes the property of her master. The fact that the maid’s visa is categorized as visa 20 (specifically for maids) makes her ineligible to work elsewhere. Absconding from the master is punishable under the Kuwait Labour Laws; ranging from incarceration to eventual deportation.
Maltreatment of Maids
There have been several reports of maltreatment, sexual abuse, involuntary servitude meted out to these maids. During interviews, the maids disclosed that they were not only extorted, but also deceived by their local agents in Freetown with flamboyant promises of lucrative jobs and bumper salaries. Upon arrival and faced with the reality of the nature of their jobs, they became despondent and abscond from their masters. Some of these absconding maids report to the Embassy, while others go underground.
Efforts of the Embassy
When the Embassy confirmed the arrival of the first batch of maids in Kuwait, a report was sent to the Sierra Leone Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the issue.
Initially, the Embassy staff used to accommodate the runaway maids, but this act contravenes the Labour Laws of the State of Kuwait. As means of mitigation and redressing the plight of our sisters, the Embassy has successfully negotiated with the authorities in Kuwait for a temporal shelter for the runaway maids who have opted to be repatriated and not found wanting by the Kuwaiti authorities.
According to Ambassador Kamara, the maid crisis gave him cause to travel to Freetown in June 2014 where he met with the appropriate authorities and recommended a moratorium on the recruitment until a policy framework on overseas recruitment is put in place. The moratorium got presidential approval a few days later, but yet maids continued to arrive in Kuwait.
When contacted on the continued arrival of our sisters despite the moratorium, the Recruiting Agencies disclosed that they got clearance from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Labour.
“These maids entered Kuwait without the knowledge of the Embassy and that Sierra Leonean girls sometimes board flights from Guinea, Ghana and Senegal to head for Kuwait,” a source told me.
It is only the temporal visa ban imposed on countries affected by the Ebola Virus that halted the arrival of maids, the source added. However, about 40 Sierra Leonean housemaids have been repatriated through the intervention of Ambassador Kamara.
Meanwhile, in a Press Release signed by the President of the Sierra Leone Union in Kuwait, Mr. Sanussie Jalloh, Sierra Leoneans in that Gulf State have expressed dissatisfaction over the report.
“We read with great disgust and dissatisfaction the article making the rounds on social media accusing His Excellency, Ambassador Ibrahim Bakarr Kamara as part of the syndicate of trafficking female Sierra Leonean teenagers as sex slaves to Kuwait,” the release states.
Continuing, the President of the Sierra Leone Union says, “It is therefore ironical to state that His Excellency the Ambassador is engaging in trafficking female Sierra Leoneans teenager as ‘sex slaves’.”
“The number of runaway maids has increased and some have gone underground which is illegal in Kuwait,” he added.
Investigations conducted so far revealed that, all housemaids from Sierra Leone were brought to Kuwait by agents including the under-mentioned Local Recruiting Agencies:
United Shipping and Overseas Recruitment Company (SL) Limited
Managing Director – Mr. Latin Kanu
Sarah Trading Enterprises
Managing Director – Mr. Mustapha Fofanah
Street Life Organization Limited
Managing Director – Sheikh Koroma
Makamo International Investment Company
Managing Director: Hakim Bangura
Sovie international Training & Contracting Company
Managing Director – Patrick Sovie (ESQ)
The under-mentioned are also recruiting:
Abdul Karim Kamara with contact listed as Immigration, Mohamed Hud Bangura of Portee, Isata Sheriff of Jui, Sulaiman Bangura of Soldier Street and one other simply identified as ‘Abass’.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.