‘Protect rights of indigenous nationalities’

Kathmandu, December 21

Though the Government of Nepal and the Foundation for Upliftment of Adibasi/Janajati conducted research on the issues facing indigenous communities, indigenous communities are yet to get their rights, said a report of the National Human Rights Commission.

Following the International Labour Organisation’s convention on indigenous communities, Nepal defined indigenous nationalities in its legislation, National Foundation for Upliftment of Indigenous Nationalities Act-2002. Some efforts were made by the state to protect the rights of indigenous nationalities by enacting the law and the constitution also has provisions related to indigenous nationalities.

“Indigenous nationalities have been included in right to equality and right to social justice under the fundamental rights of the constitution. Since the identity issue is linked with right to social justice, it seems imperative that the government effectively ensured and implemented the inclusion of indigenous nationalities in state organs based on proportional inclusive principle,” read ILO Convention Implementation Status Report-2019, published by the NHRC.

As the act recognised distinct identity of indigenous nationalities, the government published the list of minorities for the purpose of local elections and the National Assembly elections. As per census report-2011, 59 indigenous nationalities have been put under the minority list except the Dalit population.

There are several challenges to exercise equal political, economic, social and cultural rights by indigenous communities. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has recommended to accord recognition to the indigenous nationalities, who are not identified in its 95th session, the report said. “But as things stand, some indigenous nationalities are yet to be listed,” it added.

The Nepal government ratified ILO Convention no 169 on 22 August 2007. After the ratification, a study was carried out regarding the obligation entailed by the convention. The study identified the actions to be taken by the state and its obligations towards indigenous communities. An expert committee was formed comprising joint-secretary of the then Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration as coordinator and member-secretary of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities as deputy coordinator, among others for the same.