Reservation will empower janjatis: PM

Govt under fire for lack of data on indigenous people

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 19:

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba today reiterated the commitment of the government to promote equitable access of all, including the indigenous people, in all aspects of national life through a reservation policy. “We are committed to the promotion of equitable access of women, Dalits and the indigenous people to all aspects of national life through a reservation policy, which is in the making.”

PM Deuba was addressing the inaugural session of the two-day National Dialogue Conference on Promotion of ILO Convention (No 169) on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and Peace-building in Nepal. The programme was organised by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN) and the ILO Nepal. He stated that ILO Convention No 169 is among the foremost legally binding instruments in international law.

“It aims to respect all cultures and consult indigenous and tribal peoples. The cultural empowerment of indigenous and tribal peoples as a means of poverty reduction and social democracy is consistent with our own policies and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. If the Convention can provide the framework for addressing the needs of Nepal, the government will move forward for it’s ratification.” Minister of Local Development Yuba Raj Gyawali said that the topic of indigenous and tribal peoples is relevant and necessary in a country where we have lots of disparities and disadvantage between ethnic communities. Dr Om Gurung, general secretary, NEFIN, said that the conference would sensitise the government and other concerned parties on issues affecting indigenous peoples and on the need to include the active participation of indigenous peoples in all aspects affecting their live and development.

Leyla Tegmo-Reddy, director of the ILO office in Nepal, recalled the PM’s commitment to ratify Convention 169 earlier and stressed that the Conference would provide concrete guidance on actions that should be taken by various partners to ensure respect for the rights of the indigenous peoples and to promote participatory peace-building and justice. During the second session, the participants criticised the government for not having the statistics on the indigenous people of the nation.

They claimed that was the proof that the government was not serious about the issues of over 38 per cent indigenous nationalities of Nepal. Undersecretary of MoLD Hem Sharma Poudyal clarified that he could not find the statistics while preparing his paper for the conference. The meet will examine the role of Convention 169 in the peace-building in Guatemala where the Convention played an instrumental role in achieving a peaceful solution to the 37-year civil war.