The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued the 'Order on Security and Protection of Human Rights Activists, 2021' to end the problems they are facing while conducting monitoring of human rights violation.

The provisions of the order include action against anyone who intimidates or attacks the human rights defenders and relief and compensation to them or their families in case of any untoward incident. The MoHA said the order was issued and put in place in line with prevailing laws of Nepal and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, 1998.

Nepal is a party to various international covenants, treaties and agreements related to the protection, promotion and respect of human rights. Nepali human rights defenders have long been playing a significant role in the protection and promotion of human rights in various political movements, which usually target them for their work.

As per the order, it shall be the duty of the government officials and security personnel to provide security to the human rights defenders. "No human rights defenders shall be arrested and sued for staging peaceful protest against any person, government official or leader for protection or restoration of human rights of citizens," it says.

Similarly, rights activists may seek information from the concerned bodies or officials regarding violation of a citizen's personal liberty. "If the concerned bodies or official refuse to provide them with information, they can file a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission," it reads.

Security arrangements shall be made for security of human rights activists as and when they are engaged in collection of information about human rights violation. "Legal action shall be initiated against any person or government official who is found to have intimidated and harmed the human rights defenders.

Likewise, it has stipulated a provision of special security for women and differently-abled human rights defenders. "Each human rights activist shall have the fundamental right to freedom of expression, organising peaceful assembly and movement in any part of the country, as guaranteed by the constitution," the order says. If their fundamental rights are violated, they may file a writ at the court.

Additionally, the order requires Nepal Police to collect and update the details related to human rights defenders and organisations. "In case any human rights activist receive threat from any person or group, he/she may file a complaint at the nearest police office.

It shall be the duty of the police office concerned to carry out investigation into the case for legal action against the guilty with top priority," the order reads.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 13, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.