Nepal violated human rights: UNHRC

Kathmandu, August 27

Nepal violated a number of provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the country must remove all existing obstacles that hinder victims of torture and forced labour in filing complaints, the UN Human Rights Committee said in a decision published today in Geneva.

The committee’s decision came in response to an individual complaint from Bholi Pharaka (pseudonym), a member of an indigenous group who was a domestic worker in Kathmandu from the age of nine. He was forced to work every day from 4:00 am until 10:00 pm, not allowed to go to school and never received payment for his work. He was also subjected to physical and psychological abuse. After two years, he escaped, but soon thereafter was falsely accused of theft by his former master, arrested and tortured during police interrogation, according to a press release issued by the committee.

After the victim and his family’s multiple attempts to file complaints failed, his case made its way to the Human Rights Committee via a Swiss NGO (TRIAL International), which assisted him in bringing his petition to the international level.

The Human Rights Committee has the mandate to review complaints from individuals who have suffered human rights violations who have been denied justice in their home countries, read the press release.

In its decision, the committee found that Nepal violated a number of provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and called on Nepal to amend its legislation and statutes of limitations in accordance with international standards and criminalise torture and slavery with sanctions and remedies commensurate with the gravity of such crimes.

“The life of someone is shattered after enduring torture and forced labour as a child. Access to justice and accountability are essential for victims to rebuild their lives and recover their dignity. It is our hope that Nepal will take all necessary measures to protect and help victims of such acts regain their lives,” said Hélène Trigroudja, member of the committee, in the press release.

In its decision, the committee requested Nepal to report back within 180 days detailing the measures it had taken to remedy the situation.

Nepal has a record of turning a deaf ear to HRC decisions. To foster implementation of its views in the country, the HRC has, for the first time requested the government to identify domestic authorities in charge of granting each measure of reparation and provide this information within the next 180 days, TRIAL International said in a separate press release.

“Legislation related to torture and forced labour, especially concerning minors, is clearly deficient,” Helena Rodríguez- BronchúCarceller, head of TRIAL International’s Nepal programme, was quoted in the press release.

The decision points out that the recent criminalisation of torture is still at odds with international standards.