Decision to ban entry of Nepalis returning from abroad challenged

‘Move violates rights of Nepalis stranded in foreign countries’

Kathmandu, March 24

Two advocates have moved the Supreme Court demanding a roll back of the government’s decision to bar Nepali citizens returning from abroad, including India, to enter the country.

The writ was filed by advocates Madhav Basnet and Mina Basnet at the apex court yesterday, according to advocate Basnet. It was filed after the government sealed both surface and air entry routes to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in Nepal.

The petitioners have argued that the government’s decision to prevent Nepali citizens from entering their own country at the time of crisis violated their fundamental rights and human rights. They said the government should have made arrangement to bring in all Nepalis from abroad and take care of them, including providing treatment if required. “The government treated those Nepalis inhumanely,” read the writ.

The duo has also argued that Nepal has enough quarantine facilities as many hotels and schools can be used for the purpose and that Nepalis should not be left stranded in foreign land.

The writ stated that many Nepali migrant workers could neither live in respective destination countries as per the standard recommended by World Health Organisation abroad nor they could return to home country on their own.

Therefore, such individuals must be rescued and quarantined in Nepal itself.

Since the courts are not closed, it is not sure whether hearing on the writ will be conducted or not.

The Supreme Court on March 2 had issued an interim order asking the government to halt flights from and to the countries that pose high risk of coronavirus infection, including China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Bahrain, till the disease was brought under control.

The government, on March 12 completely halted flights to and from selected affected countries including China, Japan, South Korea and Iran.

On March 18, the government imposed ban on travellers originating from or getting transit in all European, West Asian and Gulf countries including Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, from March 20 till April 15.

The government on March 20 imposed a partial lockdown by halting long-distance transportation services, international flights and non-essential services by private and public sectors.

Subsequently on March 22, the government sealed all international borders for people’s movement and went for a nationwide complete lockdown from this morning.

The lockdown and border sealing resulted in scores of Nepalis returning, especially from India, being stranded at border points, at times resulting in confrontation with security personnel stationed there.