High-level panel formed to monitor rights situation

Kathmandu, April 10

A high-level human rights situation monitoring committee has been formed to carry out monitoring of various issues including performance of the Government of Nepal in the fight against COVID-19, arrangement of medical treatment for the suspected coronavirus patients, consumer rights, freedom of expression, access to justice and civic duties.

The committee headed by member of the National Human Rights Commission Govinda Sharma Paudyal includes NHRC Secretary Bed Bhattarai, President of Nepal Bar Association Chadeshwor Shrestha, NBA General Secretary Lila Mani Paudel, president of Federation of Nepali Journalists, FNJ General Secretary Ramesh Bista and President of NGO Federation of Nepal Jitram Lama, NGOFN General Secretary Ram Prasad Subedi and NHRC Director Tikaram Pokharel.

A press release issued by the NHRC said the committee had already started functioning and would submit its report to the government along with suggestions. A monitoring committee consisting of representatives from these organisations have also been formed at provincial and district levels.

Various national and international rights bodies have repeatedly called upon the government to ensure that human right is at the centre of their emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as the cases of COV- ID-19 are increasing at an alarming rate, the government has yet to take effective measures aligned with human rights standards to safeguard people, particularly the vulnerable and marginalised, read the release.

UN human rights experts have also urged the countries to refrain from abusing emergency measures introduced to combat the spread of COV- ID-19 pandemic to suppress human rights. Restriction on access to information exacerbated when authorities failed to provide accurate and reliable information on COVID-19.

To minimise the risk of human-to-human transmission, the government has enforced lockdown and it has left hundreds of Nepali migrant workers stranded at the Nepal-India border. Use of force to impose such restriction on movement would constitute blatant disregard for fundamental rights, warned the NHRC.

Earlier this week, FORUM-ASIA and its 21 member organisations had called on South Asian countries to respect freedom and dignity of people in line with international standards of human rights in measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure full access to regular and accurate information on the disease, provide access to adequate healthcare services and facilities to all members of society, address needs of women and girls, provide equal access to safe shelter, food, water, healthcare services and care giving support during obligatory quarantine.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 11, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.