Ministry relief for migrant workersGovernment will offer free legal services to its citizens in jails while on foreign employment. The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista announced this decision on Monday among several other measures for the benefit of thousands of Nepali migrant workers facing hardships such as dumped by employer and stranded without valid residence permits.
Chandan Kumar Mandal
Government will offer free legal services to its citizens in jails while on foreign employment. The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista announced this decision on Monday among several other measures for the benefit of thousands of Nepali migrant workers facing hardships such as dumped by employer and stranded without valid residence permits.
According to the Foreign Ministry, 528 Nepalis are in jails in countries where Nepali migrant workers throng.
“There are many Nepalis in jails abroad. Some are jailed just because they cannot afford to pay their legal services while some others are innocent, but have to stay there because they cannot access legal assistance,” said Minister Bista, speaking to the media at the ministry.
“As a responsible state, the government should help its citizens facing problems abroad. This decision will provide great relief to those who cannot pay for such services.”
The government has set up a task force with the mandate to submit the required plan and standards within seven days. The government has also decided to appoint a citizen from the designated foreign country. This person will have greater understanding of local laws, language and information local matters.
According to Bista, the proposed plan will help Nepali workers to deal with their exploitation by employer and all issues that compel them to face hardships in foreign countries.
The government has also tried to decentralise services and facilities offered by the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) to families of migrant workers. As per the decision, these services will be accessible to families of migrant workers from their provinces and later from local levels.
“Families and relatives of poor migrant workers have to spend time and money for these services. These services should be offered at their local levels,” said Bista, adding, a separate task force has been set up to make arrangements within one month so that these services can be offered from provinces or local levels.
Minister Bista has formed another task force, led by Nepal’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia Uday Raj Pandey, to address issues of migrant workers who are in large numbers in Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, as well as Malaysia.
This task force will study and submit its recommendations on new destination countries for migrant workers, probability of government-to-government agreements with new countries and deciding service charges for countries, other than Gulf nations, that practice global standards.
“This will put an end to the practice of going through the file of one country at once. The task force will suggest many countries with details about their per capita income, rankings among other factors following a set of standards. Also, transparency will prevail in the sector,” said the minister.
Another task force will analyse all existing policies, Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) and labour agreements between Nepal and other countries, and ensure maximum benefits to Nepali workers. The task force will also recommend suggestions to solve existing problems.
Another taskforce, set up on Monday, will suggest possibility of setting up of Remittance Investment Fund, remitting money through banking channels, utilisation of their hard-earned money in productive sectors.
The minister has instructed concerned agencies to set up an information desk and allocate space at the Tribhuvan International Airport to assist families of migrant workers deceased in foreign countries.
“Every day dead bodies of Nepali workers are despatched back home. Often grieving families face difficulties at the airport. We are deeply concerned about this situation. A separate information desk, a separate cabin and a waiting room to receive coffins will be set up within ten days. The space has already been finalised.”
The government has also decided to disseminate widely information on local culture, rules and regulations, and other important information for Nepalis workers in Nepali language through various channels. Nepali embassies in countries where Nepali workers are in large numbers will contribute information for this.