NHRC calls for judicial inquiry

KATHMANDU: Making public its report on food crisis and diarrohea epidemic in various districts in the western Nepal, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today recommended the government for judicial inquiry into the loss inflicted and compensation to the victims.

The constitutional human rights body underlined the need of independent commission on judicial inquiry to investigate into the issue of distribution of low quality foodstuff that caused 400 deaths and made over 60,000 people ill.

"If it's found that low quality foodstuff was distributed, the guilty should be punished," said Kedar Nath Upadhayaya, chairman, NHRC, while making public the report today. He called to form the panel with representatives from the government, agriculture sector, quality control authority and human rights activist.

Upadhayaya also called to punish those who distributed substandard food due to their involvement in corruption.

The rights body recommended the government to mention the identity of the importer and to maintain record of those persons who import food and distribute in the districts of the region. It also recommended the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority to investigate into the alleged corruption in food supply.

"It was not a small number of deaths. The people's right to life should not be violated," Upadhayaya said. Altogether 366 persons had died between mid-April and mid-October as per the record of the government. While, non-government organisations have put the toll to 394.

The NHRC also recommended the government to ensure food sovereignty and clean water in the remote districts and organise campaigns through local newspapers over health rights.

"There is a need to launch relief package programme in relation to the family members and children of the deceased," the NHRC recommended. "The government must implement a work plan for alternative mechanism to supply food to meet the demand of the locals in these districts," it added.

It also directed the government to formulate suitable programme to allow donor agencies in directly distributing food and set up mechanism to coordinate between such donors and local authorities.

In order to control quality in custom, plant quarantine, animal quarantine, the constitutional rights body told to implement effective monitoring, to make effective quality control as per the Food Rule.