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15 NJA L.J. 151 (2021)
Mutual Legal Assistance and the Transfer of Sentences: Prospects for Nepali Migrant Workers Imprisoned Abroad

handle is hein.journals/njal15 and id is 163 raw text is: Mutual Legal Assistance and the Transfer of Sentences: Prospects
for Nepali Migrant Workers Imprisoned Abroad
Anurag Devkota*
When considering the diverse and distinctive legal structures worldwide, mutual
legal assistances and precisely sentence transfer, with its positive impact on prisoner
rehabilitation, is even more meaningful for Nepali citizens sentenced in regions of
the world that commonly attract migrant workers. In certain destination countries,
non-citizens are extremely at risk of being denied their basic fundamental rights to a
fair trial and free legal assistance. As such, sentence transfer executed through
mutual legal assistance becomes an essential instrument for a country to protect its
citizens' rights across the globe. In the aegis of newly adopted legal regimes, this
new system, potential sentence transfer mechanisms would significantly increase the
likelihood that migrant workers sentenced abroad would have a realistic chance to
reform and live productive lives. Beyond this individual opportunity, the system also
provides avenues for prisoners to work for the benefit of their home communities,
increasing multiplier effects to local areas and general social welfare.
1. Introduction
In January 2017, ten Nepali migrant workers were allowed to return home after a
seven-year imprisonment in Saudi Arabia for a murder that they did not commit.1
One of these migrant workers, Bhim Chimariya, details the torture to which they
were subjected throughout their detention in a current story published in the Nepali
Times.2 Chimariya recalls, Police used to give us electric shocks, whip our bare legs
even as they bled... Even now, I cannot walk for long and shudder with fear
whenever I see electric tables.3 One of the eleven workers, Umesh Shrestha, did not
survive the ordeal.4 After seven long, traumatic years, the Nepali embassy finally
succeeded in pressuring the Saudi government to release the remaining ten workers
and secured their safe return.5
Other than false accusations initially lodged by fellow Indian migrant workers, who
later refused to testify, there was no evidence linking the eleven Nepali workers to
the homicide with which they were charged.6 Why did my government abandon me
to rot in Saudi Arabia? Chimariya asks, and he is not the only one raising this
Advocate; Program Coordinator, Law and Policy for Social Justice (LAPSOJ); Nepal Country Researcher,
Fair/Square Projects; Teaching Faculty, Chakrawaiti Habi Academy College of Law (Purbanchal University);
LL.M. (Rule of Law and Development), Loyola University, Chicago, USA. E-mail: anurag(underscore)dev(at)
PM positive for relief to Saudi returnees after murder acquittal, THE HIMALAYAN TIMES, Jan. 31, 2017,
https://thehimalay antimes. co m/kathmandu/pm-pushpa-kamal-dahal-po sitive-relief-return-nepali-migrant-wo rkers-
sa udi-arabia/.
2   Om Astha Rai, 7 Years in Jeddah jail, NEPALI TIMES, Feb. 9, 2017, http://archive.nepalitimes.com/article/n
3   Id.
a   Id.
5   See, The Himalayan Times, supra note 1.
6   Id.

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