11,000 languishing in foreign jails: HURON

Kathmandu, March 21:

Despite existence of international laws to transfer prisoners to their own countries, around 11,000 Nepali nationals are estimated to have been languishing in foreign jails, according to a human rights organisation.

“It is estimated that 11,000 Nepalis are serving jail terms in several countries. We have got an authentic data of 6,800 Nepalis serving jail terms in foreign land,” said Sudip Pathak, chairman of the Nepal Human Rights Organisation (HURON). Besides this, it is estimated that at least 3,500 Nepalis are languishing in jails in the Gulf countries, according to Pathak.

He said that Nepal was yet to ratify the International Treaty on Prisoners’ Transfer, which allows transfer of inmates to jails in their own countries. “Eighteen countries — including USA, France, Australia, Spain and Italy — have already transferred their citizens from foreign jails to jails in their countries,” he added.

Pathak was speaking at a programme organised by HURON and Prisoners’ Transfer Treaty, Nepal, today.

Pushkar KC, who served a 14-year jail term in Thailand and arrived here eight months ago, said he was made a scapegoat under a drug case and was jailed in a prison in the tourist island of Fukhet. KC was 18 when he was arrested while trying to go to Switzerland for a job with his neighbour via Bangkok.

KC said his companion managed to evade arrest after exchanging his bag with him. “I was caught and jailed. I was tortured to confess to the crime I had never committed,” he said.

“Without producing me before any court, the police forced me to sign on a paper written in the Thai language. Later they told me that I should serve a 50-year jail term,” he added.

“There were many Nepalis in the jail, who were given only two plates of food a day. We were discriminated against and physically tortured,” he said.

Arati Rawat of Kapan in Kathmandu said her mother, 72, and sister, 55, have already spent 15 years in a Thai jail. “They were arrested while heading to South Korea and it is still unknown when they will be released,” she added.

Advocate Madhav Koirala said the State had not shown any interest to address the issue so far. Advocate Thakur Acharya said a national law must be framed and the National Human Rights Commission and the government should work together to address the issue.

“We will submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Foreign Ministry and the Law Ministry, urging them to address the issue,” said Pathak.