545 Nepalis languishing in foreign jails

Has the govt worked enough?

Sabina Karki

March 15, 2020

6 MIN READ

545 Nepalis languishing in foreign jails
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KATHMANDU: The government’s ascent to power with high promises of employment at home has already made more than two years, yet most of the promises go unaddressed and neglected both by the government and its mechanisms.

Unfortunately, when the country is run by the remittance, the remittance makers themselves are not only going through adverse situations alone, they are waiting their term in jails with frail hopes of returning home.

The youths who left their home for the bright future of their children and who sustain the national economy are passing their time in foreign cages in various allegations.

Country-wise list of jailbirds

The record at the Secretariat of Foreign Employment Board show, in the last five years, 4,153 migrant workers from Nepal have lost their lives in a foreign land while 545 are passing their jail term with fragile hopes for a free life.

According to the Board, 545 are in various jails and out of them, 25 are waiting for the execution of the death penalty verdict declared against them.

Out of 25 with few weeks to survive provided they don’t get rescued, 16 are in Malaysia whereas there are five in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, three in Kuwait and one in the UAE.

Amongst other jailbirds, seven have got life imprisonment, whereas two are getting 25 years and 15 years terms in prison. The Board’s fact further reveals that there are five persons with 14 years, 19 with 10 years, one with 5 years, 44 with 1 year and 75 with three months more to pass in jail.

Among the Nepali jailbirds abroad 19 are women.

Directives meant for reforms not in action yet!

Making a big promise to the migrant workers Gokarna Bista, the then Minister for Labor, Social Security and Employment, had said that the government had already prepared directives to help to address the grievances of the jailbirds.

However, the directives issued by the government in 2018 is still far from implementation.

The directive promised that the government would facilitate legal support for those Nepali workers, who migrated through legal channels, and are facing legal issues or are accused of criminal offenses.

The directives have some conditions to be eligible for such help. Provided the conditions like having the valid contract of the worker are met, the government would bear all the legal expenses required to defend Nepali workers.

It provisioned that the budget for such legal services would be extracted from the FEPB relief fund.

The directives mentioned that the Board will provide a maximum of Rs 1.5 million for the purpose.

While asked about the procedure enforcing the directives, the Information Officer Dina Bandhu Subedi says that it’s still in the phase of collecting opinions of the stakeholder agencies.

“The concerned agencies have to send their recommendation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said, “Which the Foreign Ministry sends to the Ministry for Labor.”

According to him, the Ministry for Labor handles it through the Board. He said that the procedure has started with few cases coming to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to him, the Secretariat of the Foreign Employment Board has already sent Rs. one million each to the missions in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. The amount is meant to be used for hiring the lawyer.

Who will get priority?

Executive Director of the Board Rajan Prasad Shrestha claims that the government has been trying its best to save the life of every Nepali national irrespective of the crime.

“However, what one has to realize is that there are few crimes shunned as serious criminal offenses,” Shrestha said speaking to Khabarhub, “The government has to initiate the rescue from the once who could have become the victim of false allegations.”

Allegations against prisoners

Experts on migrant workers say that although the allegations against the captives differ, mostly they suffer due to ill-manner resulted by the lack of language and culture of the destination country.

Most of the Nepali migrant workers are unskilled, hence they are forced to take a menial and low-paying job which keeps hurting their egos all the time.

“The suppressed dissatisfaction with themselves and their choice of foreign labor becomes rebellious when they are bullied for nothing,” says Mohan Adhikari, a counseling scholar, “This finally leads them to aggressive reactions, sometimes even to physical assault.”

Some of the people in jail, though now repenting for their misdeeds, have really committed crimes like murder or drug smuggling as well.

Whatever the reasons behind their putting behind the bars in foreign jails may be, the duty of the state as the guardian of every citizen is to bring its national back home and sue them if required as per the legal provisions.

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