Kathmandu, October 31
The Supreme Court today quashed a Department of Immigration’s letter that stopped Lenin Bista, a former Maoist child combatant, from flying abroad.
Bista had sued the government after he was stopped by immigration officers from flying to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, on 24 August 2018, for not seeking permission from any government agency for his travel.
A division bench of justices Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Kumar Regmi issued a writ of certiorari against the government as demanded by Bista. He had filed the writ petition at the Supreme Court on 30 August 2018.
A letter issued to Bista by Immigration Office, TIA, had stated that he was stopped from flying to Thailand because he had not obtained permission or recommendation from any government agency for the programme.
Bista was stopped from flying to Thailand where he was to participate in a seminar titled ‘Youth in Conflict Areas: Healing in Peace Building through Social Engagement’.
Advocate Om Prakash Aryal who pleaded on behalf of Bista said the court quashed the DoI’s letter that stopped Bista from flying abroad terming it a violation of Bista’s freedom of expression and movement.
The apex court also told the government not to stop Bista from flying abroad in future, according to Aryal.
On the day Bista was stopped from flying to Bangkok, immigration officers also told him that had been blacklisted, according to Bista.
On August 24, immigration officers had seized Bista’s documents and returned them to him only after the plane had left for Bangkok.
Following the incident, Bista had also filed a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission demanding justice and compensation for ‘violation of his right to freedom of movement’.
Bista has been campaigning against recruitment of child soldiers, which could be one reason behind the government’s decision to stop him from flying abroad.
Bista, however, visited European countries, including Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany in March this year to raise the issue of child combatants. “When I was leaving for Europe, immigration authorities stopped me at the airport for almost an hour, but eventually they let me fly fearing that I might raise the issue of child combatants,” he told THT.
Bista returned from European tour almost after four months.
Bista, a resident of Kavrepalanchowk district was recruited as a child soldier by the Maoist rebels during the conflict and he served the Maoist party for seven years before the party signed a peace deal with the government in 2006.
A version of this article appears in print on November 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.