100 youth and parents gathered at the premises of the Memorial Chorten, Thimphu

Parents and youth of ‘learn and earn program’ file a criminal case against BEO

RBP to decide if it can take the case or not

Lawyers in Japan get ready to sue BEO’s Japanese partner SND on behalf of Bhutanese families

Around 100 youth and parents who claim to be the victims of the ‘learn and earn program’, an employment scheme started the Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO), gathered at the premises of the Memorial Chorten, Thimphu on Wednesday.  After which they headed off to the Police Head Quarters to lodge a complaint. Parents and the youth gathered said they want justice.

Later after studying the case in depth, they found out that the case is more of a criminal nature. Therefore, the parents, youth and Parents’ Committee Lawyer, Ngawang Tobgay, filed a case based on their findings, which includes forgery, deception, harassment, abandoning of person in danger and human trafficking.

The committee lawyer shared that the agent had forged the bank statement without the knowledge of the youth.  Moreover, the youth were promised a job after a month, and then after three months while studying the Japanese language.

BEO had also promised to pay the fees for hostel, tuitions and others for the youth on the program for a year, which was also not honoured.

The youth complained of atrocious working environment in Japan. The youth were also not assured of jobs after the completion of the language course, so much so that 300 plus youth returned back to Bhutan. All of this falls under deception, said the committee lawyer Ngawang Tobgay.

The youth also report that the agent, through warnings and threats, harassed them. There is proof of such harassment, said the lawyer Ngawang Tobgay. “Two youths lost their lives and one is in coma,” he said, and those who are still in Japan are in danger, he added.

He said the intention BEO was to seek its own monetary gains and benefit, as the agent did not even care about the youth, they were actually exploited, he added.

Chief of Police (COP), Chimi Dorji said it is almost a year that the case was going on, and the case never came to the police, till now, the case had no criminal content. He said, “The case was taken by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) before and when it comes to police, it leaves some doubt, so police have to see the content first and then decide whether to take case or not.”

COP also said if they take the case out of blue then this might create some doubts and add additional problems.

Committee lawyer said when the case was with ACC, he was not involved. After that the parents and youth, including himself, they appealed to ACC to re-investigate the case, in a conference with ACC.  “ACC said that their responsibility is to look after the cases that have the elements of corruption and embezzlement,” said the parents’ committee lawyer.

He said they respect the ACC investigation, but then the findings they uncovered were not for ACC to investigate the case. The case was actually to be investigated by the police.

Meanwhile, the Thimphu Police will be studying the content of the case and then decide if investigation on the case is required.

Japanese lawyers to sue

Meanwhile in Japan the Japanese Lawyer Shouichi Ibusuki  said he is equally concerned with regard to victimization of Bhutanese Youths by the Learn and Earn Program and in furtherance of seeking justice, a group of lawyers in Japan want to sue BEO’s counterpart SND of Japan before their own courts.

For this, the Parents’ Committee is asked to furnish “Power of Attorney” from the aggrieved students, so that they can initiate actions very soon. Accordingly, the Committee is in the process of drafting the authorization letter which shall be dispatched in a day or two.

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