Forgotten citizens

The estimated number of Nepalis languishing in prisons abroad runs in thousands. Most of them are in India, the Gulf countries and South East Asian outposts like Thailand and Malaysia. Sadly, no one knows the real number of Nepalis serving time in foreign jails. Equally less understood are reasons for their incarceration. Ramesh Tamang, who was recently freed after eight years in a Thai prison, still insists that the drug-peddling charges levelled against him by Thai authorities were completely false. Other Nepali nationals released from Thai prisons have complained about crammed prison cells and being forced to work in shackles.

But little is being done in diplomatic front either to secure a safe release of these hapless prisoners or to ensure that they get a humane treatment in foreign jails. This was made crystal clear by a Foreign Ministry spokesperson who told THT that there was “no plan regarding prisoners abroad”. It is noteworthy that Nepal is yet to sign Prisoners

Transfer and Exchange Treaty with any country. The government’s first task is to collect correct data on the number of Nepalis imprisoned abroad and proceed to sign such treaties with the countries concerned. The level of indifference the country has shown towards its citizens suffering abroad, sometime needlessly, is indeed appalling. The government should see to it that Nepali citizens are given fair trials and that their basic rights are protected during judicial proceedings abroad.