Legal aid for falsely implicated migrants

  • Innocent migrant Nepali workers languishing in jails for offences they have not committed

Kathmandu, June 28

Migrant workers who have been sentenced to jail terms in labour destinations for criminal offences will receive legal assistance from the government to fight their legal battles.

The government has planned to set up a mechanism that will look into providing legal assistance to Nepali migrant workers in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nepali missions in the concerned labour destinations.

Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista said the Cabinet meeting today endorsed the ‘Guidelines to provide legal protection to migrant workers - 2018’ submitted by his ministry. The mechanism will start functioning once the guidelines are published in the Nepal Gazette.

Many innocent migrant Nepali workers have been languishing in jails for criminal offences that they have not committed and are compelled to serve prison sentence or even death penalty due to lack of legal support.

Minister Bista said many Nepali workers could win their legal battles if the government provided effective legal assistance through the channel envisioned in the guidelines, as many Nepalis serving prison sentences in labour destinations were falsely implicated.

However, the government assistance is not meant for those who do not have valid work permits and those obtaining legal assistance from non-governmental organisations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has collected the database of migrant workers serving prison sentences in various labour destinations through Nepali missions in the respective countries. Many victims are in the Middle East as a large number of Nepalis have migrated to those destinations and these countries have harsh legal provisions against those who have allegedly committed criminal offences.

The government will set up a secretariat to collect applications and required documents from victims’ families and recommend to the MoFA for legal aid, including the required financial assistance to fight legal battles. Such applications will also be collected through Nepali missions in the concerned countries.

After verification by the MoFA, documents will have to be forwarded to the secretariat that will provide legal aid through the respective embassies to victims to fight their legal battles. The secretariat, in turn, will have to forward the documents and the expected cost to fight the legal battles to the Foreign Employment Promotion Board, as per the guidelines. “The FEPB can grant up to Rs 1.5 million per case to fight the legal battle,” add the guidelines.

The secretariat will transfer the aid to the concerned mission and the mission will be responsible for hiring legal professionals to help the accused migrants. However, the accused and their families will have to manage the bail amount if required to release the accused from judicial custody and move the higher court.