Oct 21, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Ministry of Foreign Employment Ministry says that the government does not take any responsibility for Sri Lankan migrant workers staying abroad illegally.
The Ministry says a number of Sri Lankans have been reported to be engaged in employment illegally after their valid visas have expired or have fled the legal place of service.
According to official figures, the number of Sri Lankans working overseas exceeds 1.5 million. Most of them are employed in various fields in the Middle East.
Sri Lankans are also employed in South Korea, Israel, Cyprus, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan, the Foreign Employment Bureau said.
The Ministry in a statement said it has received reports of number of migrant workers, who were illegally engaged in employment getting injured and hospitalized.
According to the reports received from the embassies, a significant number of Sri Lankans are working overseas without prior registration in the Bureau of Foreign employment.
The embassy reports say due to the illegal migrant workers, Sri Lanka's diplomatic relations with those countries are also getting strained.
Working Director of the Foreign Employment Bureau Attorney Upul Deshapriya speaking to the BBC Sinhala service said that such persons are damaging the reputation of the country.
"The reputation of our country has been badly damaged due to illegal employment," he said. According to him, the job quota from South Korea has been decreased this year.
The official said that more than 25,000 Sri Lankan workers have been sent to South Korea, out of which over 5,000 are illegally employed.
"This has also happened in Israel. This has reduced the country's quota for those who are waiting to leave for work in future," he said.
Under such circumstances, the government does not take any responsibility regarding the Sri Lankan migrant workers who are staying abroad illegally, the Ministry of Foreign Employment emphasizes.
"Working without a valid visa is a breach of the laws of that country and it is an offense punishable by fines and imprisonment," the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Employment said.
The Ministry announcement also made a request to the relatives of illegal migrant workers to inform them of the law. "If need to work after the valid visa is expired, advise them to do so by legal means," the announcement further said.