Lawyer Trương Quốc Hòe, head of the Interla Legal Office under the Hà Nội Bar Association, talks to Kinh tế & Đô Thị (Economy & Urban Affairs) newspaper about the need for strong actions against illegal guest workers
What can you tell us about Vietnamese guest workers working illegally abroad?
The term “illegal export worker” refers to someone who returns to work overseas independently without going through an agency that has the authority to handle the paperwork needed for any Vietnamese citizen who wants to work abroad. This means they have migrated to a foreign country to work illegally.
Some Vietnamese people want to work abroad illegally, and there are 'fixers' who illegally organise these trips for them. Most of these illegal migrant workers are unskilled and without a foreign language.
Many illegal Vietnamese migrants have been deported, but local governments have failed to take actions against them.
How does Vietnamese law regulate penalties imposed on illegal migrant workers?
Under Article 17 of the Decree No.167/2013/NĐ, any illegal migrant worker who returns home should be fined from VNĐ 3-5 million (US$130-210). If a migrant worker goes overseas illegally and is caught by authorities in a foreign country, they are deported immediately.
For migrant workers whose contracts have ended but they continue staying in their guest country illegally, they should be fined VNĐ80-100 million. They are deported and banned from going to work abroad for 2-5 years.
Do you think these sanctions are strong enough?
In my opinion, the sanctions are not strong enough. They should be much heavier!
In Việt Nam, we face the problem of illegal departures. In my opinion, we should increase the fine or impose stricter sanctions on them. What we need to do is raise awareness among the general public that if they want to go to work abroad, they should seek assistance from authorities to obtain work permits.
What should the Government do to encourage Vietnamese guest workers to return home when their contracts end?
At present, there is no legal framework saying that Government agencies should have to provide support for guest workers returning home and looking for jobs. However, in the last few years, the Government has issued a policy on the repatriation of Vietnamese guest workers to help them find jobs and re-integrate with society. For example, if any of them want to find a job, they should go to an employment centre in their locality to ask for help. However, I have to say, this service remains limited. — VNS