Kathmandu, February 20:

With a view to working together to protect and promote human rights in the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) today signed Guidelines for Cooperation.

The guidelines are expected to avoid duplication of work as NHRC commissioners had been objecting to OHCHR-Nepal’s mandate, saying that its mandate had encroached upon NHRC’s mandate.

The two institutions endorsed a 10-point guideline, stating that both of them would work together to protect human rights. According to the agreement, the OHCHR-Nepal will provide technical support and advisory services to strengthen the NHRC.

The guidelines were signed by secretary Bishal Khanal on behalf of the NHRC and OHCHR-Nepal chief Richard Bennett on behalf of the UN rights body. As per the guidelines, both the institutions will carry out education, training, publication and information dissemination tasks to protect human rights.

The OHCHR-Nepal will hold training programmes for NHRC staff and hold human rights orientation for CA members; government, law enforcement and judicial officials, civil society members and human rights defenders. The OHCHR-Nepal has also agreed to forward all complaints and cases, including its investigation reports, to NHRC. The two bodies will develop a joint strategy for regular meetings at the regional and national levels.

According to the guidelines, on conflict related cases prior to the peace accord, the OHCHR will consult with the NHRC and fulfil its mandate. The OHCHR-Nepal will report to the UN Human Rights Council in Nepal and it will continue its monitoring activities as needed. If any action is urgently needed on any issue, the OHCHR-Nepal will request the NHRC for appropriate action.

The two bodies will work together on developing strategy, procedural guidelines or checklists, to monitor and take other action in relation to the government’s compliance with the international human rights treaties to which Nepal is a party. Chief commissioner of the NHRC Kedar Nath Upadhyay said the agreement would help to avoid duplication of work of the two institutions and systematise the work.

“I hope that this would help to improve the human rights situation in the country,” Upadhyay added.

Bennett also said the move would help to enhance and promote human rights situation in the country, as his office was ready to help the NHRC.