Govt urged to protect rights of marginalised, needy people

Kathmandu, April 16

A high-level human rights situation monitoring committee headed by the National Human Rights Commission today expressed serious concern about the desperate humanitarian situation of thousands of daily wagers in Kathmandu valley, patients requiring medical checkup and follow-up and people taking a long walk home amid the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government.

The monitoring committee was recently formed to monitor various issues, including government’s performance in the fight against COVID-19, arrangement of medical treatment, consumer rights, freedom of expression, access to justice and civic duties during the ongoing crisis.

The committee headed by Member of National Human Rights Commission Govinda Sharma Paudyal includes representatives from Nepal Bar Association, Federation of Nepali Journalists and NGO Federation of Nepal.

According to the NHRC, the monitoring team found hundreds of marginalised people, including women, children, pregnant women and senior citizens pouring into the national highways to walk home as they were deprived for relief in places where they were staying in self-quarantine for weeks.

“Thousands of people walking long distance to reach destination have been stranded at entry points of various district, including Kavre, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Dhading, Kapilvastu, Banke, Bardiya and Kailali due to strict enforcement of the lockdown by the concerned local administration,” a press release issued by the NHRC warned. The government has also imposed ban on travelling from one local level to another.

The monitoring shows there is a lack of coordination among the federal, provincial and local levels in distribution of relief to needy persons. The NHRC urged the authorities to collect data of each person and family living in the local level and distribute relief and other essentials in a fair and justifiable manner. The NHRC also called on the government to comply with Article 52 of the constitution and Article 12 (2) and (4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nepal is a party.

“We call on the authorities to ensure that citizens, especially differently-abled persons, senior citizens, children and the indigent, who are observing self-quarantine in their respective places, have easy access to daily essentials in the wake of the lockdown imposed by the government,” read the release.

The NHRC also praised the government’s decision to confine people to their homes in self-quarantine as a preventive measure against the spread of the deadly disease and appealed to all to respect this order for their and others’ safety, while exercising the rights conferred by the constitution and prevailing laws.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 17, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.