Free legal aid service soon for jailed migrant workers in foreign countries

Kathmandu, April 4: The government is to provide free legal aid services to those Nepali migrant workers serving a jail sentence in various foreign countries.

In an initial phase, the Foreign Employment Promotion Board has sent Rs 5.5 million to Nepali embassies based in six labour receiving countries to make necessary arrangements in this regard.

Board Executive Director Raghuraj Kafle said Rs one million has been sent each to Nepali Embassy in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait and Rs 500 thousand has been dispatched for Oman. He said additional amount will be sent as per the necessity.

The Board has prepared the draft of the guideline relating to the legal aid to be provided for migrant workers and sent it to the Ministry of Labour and Employment for further action. The Board is also preparing to send the amount to other foreign countries as well for the welfare of Nepalis spending time in prisons there.

The Board has data that hundreds of Nepalis are doing time in various foreign countries and millions of rupees are estimated to cost to provide them with free legal aid. Besides, the Board is preparing to plead for those Nepalis convicted by a lower court of a respective labour receiving country through an appeal to a higher court.

The reality is that a number of Nepalis spending time in jails in foreign courtiers are caught in difficulties due to language problem and they are expected to be benefited by the free legal aid, said a Board employee.
Legal practitioners of the respective foreign countries will be hired to see the cases of Nepali workers and they will be paid by the respective Nepali Embassy there.

Advocate familiar with the foreign employment law Som Luitel has taken the government's decision in favour of migrant workers as a big achievement. This legal assistance would also help provide support to those migrant workers deprived of jobs, pays and other facilities as agreed upon, he added.

There are a total of 231 Nepalis including 12 women languishing in various jails of various labour receiving
countries excluding India, according to the Office of Prime Minister Office and Council of Ministers.
The figure includes the total 76 prisoners (75 men and one woman) in Saudi Arabia, 61 (53 men and eight women) in Kuwait, 50 men in Qatar, 13 men in Malaysia, 19 (18 men and one woman) in the UAE, six men in Bahrain, two men in South Korea and one woman in Israel.

The process is reported to be underway to provide death penalty to some 19 Nepalis languishing in various foreign country jails while cases have been registered in courts seeking capital punishment against 14 Nepalis serving jail terms there.

Nepal has been presently asked for over Rs 250 million blood money for the victims of various types of crimes involving Nepalis in foreign countries.