The Amnesty International says that growing cases of “disappearances” are the key indications of rights violations in Nepal. It records 418 disappearances as opposed to the National Human Rights Commission’s 707. The report cites preventive detention, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests among other rights violations in Nepal. Both the state and the Maoist rebels are implicated in several ways. The report is also critical of rights abuses in the whole of South Asia. But the crisis in Darfur and other parts of strife-torn Africa overshadow those of others. Even the US and the UK have been accused of voicing concern only for their political convenience.
In Nepal, rights abuse has been a major cause for concern since the Maoist insurgency erupted nearly a decade ago. Though right violations were common prior to the armed insurrection, the sheer scale and frequency pales out in comparison to the one occurring since the time different security agencies were mobilised to contain the conflict. A number of international bodies have also been expressing serious concerns and urging the parties to the conflict to respect the international conventions pertaining to human rights, particularly the ones Nepal is a signatory to. However, the improvement in the rights scenario has been negligible, if at all. And post-February 1 period has not proved any different, either.
Human rights are indispensable. They must be respected by all parties at all times because in their absence, human values take a flight and rule of law is severely compromised. In any society, the state’s role in protecting the rights of its people is always critical. That is not to argue, however, responsibility of its citizens and other entities is any less. The NHRC could not always successfully dissuade the combatants from committing violence and abuse. Therein lies the reason why a more influential institution has to emerge. The NHRC’s term has ended and a recommendation panel has already been announced for the appointment of a new Commission. The challenge before the new Commission is to make the state as well as the rebels respect human rights. This is all the more important, particularly when the state has been inching towards what US-based Human Rights Watch says is “increasing governmental control of an already beleaguered NHRC.”