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Nepal

The MWA2J Project started working in Nepal in April 2012 in partnership with CESLAM, the Center for the Study of Labour and Mobility in Kathmandu. As in Indonesia, the work began with a roundtable on access to justice with local stakeholders, but also included a training component on migrant worker rights under international law. The study has involved interviews and focus groups with migrant workers and civil society, as well as an analysis of cases filed at various government agencies. The report of findings and recommendations was launched in Kathmandu in June 2014.

Nepal is an important case study for migrant worker access to justice because overseas work is so crucial to the economy. A 2009 survey found that almost half of all households in Nepal have at least one member who is currently or who has returned from working abroad. The number of Nepalis working abroad has increased dramatically since the early 1990’s and rose by 30% between 1991 and 2001 according to the national census. In 2009, the Nepali Migration Survey estimated that 2 million Nepalese were working abroad. The numbers who leave each year are difficult to determine because it is believed many, including almost all women, travel unofficially, but in 2011/12 the Department of Foreign Employment approved almost 385,000 applications. This comprises men and some women working in a range of sectors from manufacturing, to service work and domestic work.

In addition, Nepal presents an interesting case study because it has adopted a comprehensive law on migrant labour and has established a number of specialized bodies to deal with disputes, including a government Department of Foreign Employment, and a tribunal for hearing migrant worker cases in an expedited manner. Nepal's experience with these institutions may provide a useful example to other countries interested in adopting similar measures.