ICJ concerned about draft constitution
KATHMANDU, July 20
The International Commission of Jurists has raised a number of concerns about Nepal’s draft constitution in a letter to Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, released on July 17.
As per ICJ the CA’s endorsement of a draft constitution, and the subsequent opening of a 15-day public consultation on this draft, represents a unique and crucial moment in Nepal’s constitutional history. But to fulfill the promises of the Comprehensive Peace Accord that ended the decade-long armed conflict and the guarantees of the Interim Constitution it will replace and changes in the drafting process must ensure adequate opportunity for meaningful and inclusive public participation, and amendments to the draft constitution are required to protect human rights in accordance with Nepal’s international obligations.
“This 15-day timeframe must be expanded, and provisions of the draft constitution must be amended to ensure that the Nepali people have the opportunity to frame a constitution which guarantees rule of law, human dignity and enhanced human rights protection,” said Wilder Tayler, secretary general of the International Commission of Jurists.
In a letter to the Chairperson of the CA, accompanied by a detailed briefing paper, the ICJ has made recommendations for changes to both the constitution-making process and text of the draft constitution in light of Nepal’s obligations under international human rights law.
The ICJ has underscored that while renewed momentum in the Nepali government in the aftermath of the quake to finalise and adopt the long-awaited constitution is welcome, the speed and manner in which the consultation on the first draft constitution is being conducted is undermining people’s right to participate.
“Such ‘fast-tracking’ risks delegitimising the constitution-making process by undermining people’s right to participate in it,” Tayler said. The ICJ has also noted several provisions of the draft constitution that must be amended to fully comply with international human rights standards and to protect the rule of law.
Flaws pointed out
- Citizenship provisions are vague and discriminatory, and risk making people stateless
- Non-citizens are excluded from key rights entitlement and protections
- Several rights, including women’s rights and key economic, social and cultural rights, are not adequately protected
- Restrictions on rights to free speech, expression, information and press freedom, as well as the rights to freedom of association and assembly are broad and vague and do not conform with international human rights standards
- Provisions on remedy for human rights violations are lacking
- Protections of the independence of the judiciary are weak and inadequate
- Provisions on emergencies and consequent restriction of rights are overboard.