Rights situation in Nepal must be addressed: AI, ICJ

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 4:

Amnesty International (AI) and International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today urged the international community to raise the issue of human rights situation at the Nepal Development

Forum (NDF) meeting opening tomorrow. Stating that the NDF is a great opportunity for the international community to demand real action from the Nepal government on human rights, both the international human rights organisations have called upon the donor community to place human rights at the centre of discussions.

“Nepal is facing a human rights crisis, with reports of widespread arbitrary arrests and detentions, hostage-taking, torture, disappearances and unlawful killings, perpetrated by both the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (Maoist) and the military,” said the AI in a press statement. “Without urgent and comprehensive measures to address the situation and protect basic human rights, broader plans for social and economic development will become increasingly irrelevant and difficult to implement.” AI particularly has requested delegates to the NDF to urge the Nepal government to sign the proposed Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Apart from insisting the government to meet its existing human rights commitments, the AI has requested the donor community to demand the government end “impunity and establish effective systems of redress for victims of human rights abuses.”

This must include strengthening the independence of the judiciary and bringing perpetrators of human rights abuses to the book. The ICJ also urged the government to turn human rights commitments into reality. “Unless steps are taken to reverse the escalating rights abuse in this conflict, development in Nepal will not only be stalled but will sharply decline” said Nicholas Howen, Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). The ICJ has urged the government to implement the 25-point “Commitment” document, in which it agreed to protect people from abuses by the army and the police.

“Assistance can make a real difference to human rights in Nepal, but it must be guided by and based on the government actually implementing the details of the two solemn commitments,” the ICJ stated. These documents merely reiterate some of the obligations the government is already bound to under human rights treaties it has ratified. “Donors look for benchmarks of change; we have them in these public commitments and they should now be a constant reference point for donors” said the Secretary General. “Assistance should not be given for purely cosmetic initiatives such as the human rights cells set up in the army and police.” There are many immediate steps the government could take to signal to its people and the donor community that it is serious about protecting human rights,” it said.