Parents and students on their way to file the police complaint on 26th June. (Photo by Usha Drukpa)

RBP to review BEO case for criminal elements after OAG says it is a different case

The parents and students had filed a separate case with the RBP

The Royal Bhutan Police will start reviewing the case filed by students and parents against the Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) agent for the Learn and Earn (LEP) program in Japan from Monday, 22nd July.

If there are strong criminal elements in the case, then they will proceed with the investigation.

An official from RBP said it took a while for them to take up the case because the screening corpuses was going on. It just ended on Friday.

The official said after the screening corpuses, OAG found out that the case is not included in the ACC report and they said it is a different issue. So the OAG has handed over the case to the RBP.

The official said that earlier the RBP and the OAG were to work together on this case but after reviewing the documents the OAG is not going to take over the case, so now Thimphu police will take over the case starting from Monday and they will see whether it warrants an investigation or not.

The official reiterated that they will register their case and proceed with the investigation only if the case has some strong criminal elements. An official from OAG said they are just concerned with issues forwarded to them by the ACC about the illegal license, conflict of interest, handling of complaints, false declaration of assets. The ACC report had findings against the the Labour DG and officials in the ministry on the Japan case while it had findings against the former Minister, the DG and officials in an Indian labour agent case.

After the police starts investigating the case and if the case has to be reviewed by the OAG then the police can forward the case to OAG, said the OAG official.

The OAG official said that they are reviewing the reports forwarded by the ACC early this year and they have not decided about the charge sheet for now because there are lot of things they need to look into the case, the official added.

On 26th June around 100 youth and parents who says they are victims of the LEP program by BEO filed a case based on their own findings, which includes forgery, deception, harassment, abandoning of person in danger and human trafficking to the Thimphu Police.

Their complaint was not lodged immediately because the Chief of Police (COP), Chimi Dorji said it was almost a year that the case was going on, and the case never came to the police, till now. He said, “The case was taken by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) before and when it comes to police, it leaves some doubt, so the police had to see the content first and then decide whether to take case or not.”

The Parents’ Committee Lawyer, Ngawang Tobgay, filed the case on behalf of a large number of students in both Bhutan and Japan as well as parents in Bhutan.

The committee lawyer shared that the agent had forged the bank statement without the knowledge of the youths.  Moreover, the youths were promised a job after a month, and then after three months while studying the Japanese language. He alleged BEO had also promised to pay the fees for hostel, tuitions and others for the youths on the program for a year, which was also not honored. He said the youths complained of atrocious working conditions 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 youths also reported 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.

The case of the coma patient, Sonam Tamang evoked widespread public sympathy and even donations after the coverage of her case by this paper.

He said the intention of BEO was to seek its own monetary gains and benefit, as the agent did not even care about the youths.

The Parent’s Committee also appealed to ACC to re-investigate the case as the ACC did not go to Japan.  “ACC said that their responsibility is to look after the cases that have the elements of corruption and embezzlement,” said the parents’ committee lawyer.

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