On 25 March the Supreme Court refused the petition’s call to order the government to open the doors to Nepalis abroad who wish to return. A second hearing has been scheduled for 6 April.
In an interview, Basnet points out that Article 45 of the Constitution guarantees that citizens will not be exiled and argues that the current situation is “exile-like treatment”.
On 20 March the government imposed a partial lockdown, halting long-distance transportation services, international flights and non-essential services. Two days later it sealed international borders to the movement of people, then imposed the nationwide lockdown from 24 March.
Article 12 (4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), one of the bedrock human rights laws, to which Nepal is a party, states: ‘No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.’ According to Niranjan Thapaliya, director of Amnesty International Nepal: “The government has a duty and responsibility under international law to ensure the rights of its citizens, wherever they are.”
“It should let these people in, put them under quarantine to ensure they are healthy, and afterwards they should safely and in a dignified manner be allowed to go home,” Thapaliya told Nepali Times. Quarantine must also adhere to a human rights approach, ensuring that the sick, elderly, women and children receive any different treatment they require, he notes.
Thapaliya says that freedom of movement can be curtailed in certain situations but those exceptions must be of short duration, notified in advance, and communicated clearly. Nepal’s border closure was “too sudden, too quick”.