November 5, 2018 02:00 AM NPT
Reports of Nepalis in jail abroad have become common a feature in Nepali media. Hari Bahadur Ghale of Nuwakot has been serving his time in a Malaysian jail since 2003. He was arrested the same day he was planning on returning Nepal in 2003, on charges of possessing contraband. He insists that his friend set him up. While he was in jail, Ghale’s parents and one of his sisters died in Nepal. His wife also remarried. The pain does not stop there. In October of this year, Malaysian court handed him additional 13 years of jail time. This is a painful story.
Ghale is one of many Nepalis in the Middle East and elsewhere languishing in jail. Many times these Nepalis are framed and are handed down harsh sentences. That is where our embassies and consulate offices must step up their game and provide the needed legal and other services. Our presence in countries with a large number of Nepalis must be strengthened; services should also be upgraded accordingly.
Endless queue of people outside the Nepali embassies in Kuwait, UAE and in other countries in the region have been reported multiple times. It almost appears that our government is indifferent to their pain and daily suffering. Labor minister Gokarna Bista signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Malaysia government earlier this month. The agreement will hopefully pave a way for a safe and hospitable working environment for Nepali workers in Malaysia. Moreover, easy and accessible legal services to Nepalis working in a number of countries have been often overlooked. And Minsiter Bista should explore ways to provide legal assistance to those in need overseas.
Governments around the world ensure that their citizens are protected and taken care of when needed. While we may not have the resources to extend full-fledged support to Nepalis living and working everywhere, legal, psychological and other support should be of top priority when it comes to top labor destination countries. For too long, our brothers and sisters toiling hard in often difficult places have been humiliated, tortured and neglected. This must stop, and they deserve our country’s full care and support.
To start with, the government should look into ways to support Ghale, for he has already spent more than a decade in a jail in Malaysia. He deserves our country’s support.