Protect rights of citizens residing in border areas: NHRC

Kathmandu, May 27

The National Human Rights Commission has made a 41-point recommendation to the federal and provincial governments to protect the human rights of citizens residing near the international borders.

The recommendations are based on the field study and monitoring conducted by a team of NHRC members comprising Mohna Ansari and Govinda Sharma Poudyal from 2015 to 2019 in 28 districts bordering with India and China.

The detailed monitoring report released yesterday focuses on the human rights situation of Nepali citizens residing on the borders.

The report has shown concerns about the situation of Nepali citizens residing in the border areas, while recommending that the federal and provincial governments protect their fundamental human rights. “They are deprived of fundamental human rights guaranteed by the constitution due to outstanding problems related to international boundary pillars, dams, roads, embankments and national parks. They have been facing problems also due to conservation activities in the border areas,” it stated.

The report, especially, focuses and makes public facts related to the status of citizens’ right to life, dignity, freedom, equality and security, and the discriminatory and inhuman treatment meted out to them. According to the report, citizens residing on the international border don’t have access to fair hearing, education, health, food and employment.

Other problems facing these citizens are related to poverty, development, displacement and consumer rights, among others.

The report has recommended that the federal government maintain trilateral border points among Nepal, India and China; provide compensation to the damage citizens residing in the border areas incur due to road, dam, embankment and other construction activities; create an environment for the citizens to proportionally benefit from the use of Koshi, Gandak and Sharada dams; and make public the whereabouts of citizens missing from the border areas.

The report also urges the federal government to make necessary arrangements ensuring their economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. Citizens residing in border areas live under constant fear of wild animals entering human settlements from national parks and wildlife reserves from both Nepal and India and destroying property and lives, which has deprived them of the right to live peaceful life. The border areas are also grappling with gender-based violence, allegation of witchcraft, dowry system and child marriage.

The NHRC urged the federal and provincial governments to ensure the presence of Nepali security forces in the border areas to maintain law and order, control cross-border crimes and provide access to basic facilities.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 28, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.