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Give importance to documentation

19 July 2016

Give importance to documentation. It could save you from harm.
Most of the time, almost all the cases being referred to the Mission are without evidence or witnesses that will corroborate their statement. Such, in fact, are the most difficult cases to handle.
The most common example is sexual assault or rape or physical assault. How can a migrant woman who was a victim of such an act prove that the crime really happened and that the evidence can prove beyond reasonable doubt her allegations?
Due process dictates that the accuser should be the one to prove that the offence was committed; it is not the burden of the accused to prove her/his innocence. The role of the accused, being the defendant, is to debunk or discredit all the evidence and even the witness/es of the accuser in order to strengthen the probability of dismissing the case.
For that matter, migrant workers being accused of any crime must not stress themselves in proving their innocence. It should be the accuser who should prove, beyond reasonable doubt that the offence was committed.
This Know Your Rights article is about the importance of documentation especially in a situation where there are no witnesses to support or corroborate the victim’s statement or accusation against her tormentor.
There are many ways of doing documentation: taking photos, keeping small pieces of evidence like piece(s) of paper with instructions written by your employer, recording or written diary of all incidents. All of these are part of documentation. All of these can be presented to a lawyer assisting you who will weigh which of these are useful in strengthening your case against the accused.
In all cases, the reconstruction of the event surrounding the alleged offence is a must. This is to establish first the facts related to the offence. This is important because from the narration, the lawyer will know what kind of evidence must be produced to corroborate or verify the statement or narration or reconstruction of the event
The reconstruction of the event needs to be chronologically written. That means from the beginning - the first day - to the day when the offence was committed and immediately after it. This is the very reason why we strongly suggest to our clients to keep a diary from the time they started work. If it is related to the recruitment agency this will include records from the day they knew of the existence of the agency up to the time they applied, and so on
What usually is the content of the diary?
Everyday, you write all that happened that day. When did you start, what did you do (household chores, bringing the kids to school, etc), your meeting with your employer, the good or the not so good. If there was conversation, what was it about? Where – kitchen, living room, etc. – and what time do you usually converse? What was handed over to you (instructions or duties); and other things that happened that day to start the making of the statement.
From this narrative statement, the important and relevant facts can be extracted that will build up the case. Then comes the importance of the other pieces of evidence, including witnesses.
Statement or presentation of facts and event are mere words. No matter how true it is, once refuted or denied by the accused, it will be your word against the other. Nothing can be proven. Nothing can be established to determine the guilt of the accused. So, the other pieces of evidence and witnesses will come in to support or corroborate the facts. They will help determine who is telling the truth. They will prove without doubt the guilt of the accused. Without these even the prosecutor will dismiss the complaint due to lack of evidence.
These evidence are gathered and compiled in the whole course of your employment. All receipts when you buy something, pieces of paper of your duties, instructions, grocery receipts, etc. If something was given as a gift, try to convince them to have a picture taken with the gift. This is easy now as most people have a cellphone with built-in camera. Try to document even gifts from friends either by taking pictures with your friend, or convince her to write on a card so you can have a remembrance that you can keep. You may send your friend a text message afterwards, thanking her/him of the gift. Don’t delete it. Keep it or print it.
Sometimes when the relationship with your employer is good and you have been with them for a long time, the tendency in doing the above is taken for granted. We have cases of good relationship with employer turning bad after many years of working with them. In one case, the helper was accused of stealing from the employer a present they gave her. A photo of her showing when they gave her the gift helped her explain that it was not stolen from them.
We do not mean here to be overly suspicious. This is just to be on the safe side as much as possible. Treasure a good relationship with honesty and respect.
Furthermore, what we have written here does not only pertain to employer-employee relationship. It is true in all situations, including dealing with recruitment agencies.

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