EDITORIAL: Be responsible

The constitutional National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) marked the 68th International Human Rights Day on December 10, urging the government to implement the recommendations it made in the past.

However, the NHRC members have lamented that the government has done little to address the issues the constitutional body has raised. The new constitution which was promulgated on September 20 last year has enlisted over a score issues, including right to education and health, right to livelihood, shelter and employment, among others, as fundamental rights of citizens.

These rights are binding for the State. As per its constitutional jurisdiction, the NHRC quite often makes recommendations on reparation and punitive action against those found guilty on rights violations.

The human rights violation is not limited to the physical torture, maiming, killing, taking hostage of a person or any other acts taken either by the State or non-State party.

The government’s non-response to the victims of natural calamities and socio-economic discrimination against a particular community or region, for example, is also defined as a human rights violation.

The drought-hit Karnali region being deprived of food security can also be the human rights violation, a case the government should address quickly.

The NHRC basically offers the government two types of recommendations – one for providing reparation and the other for taking legal action – in cases of right violation. This is the duty and responsibility of the State to put the recommendations into action.

A case in point is that a 13-year old girl in Surkhet died recently when she was made to wait to welcome Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal who went there to inaugurate a business fair. Is the government not responsible for her death and should the government not provide compensation to her bereaved family?

NHRC member Mohna Ansari lamented that the government was particularly apathetic towards addressing issues related to violence against women, providing relief to the conflict and natural disasters.

There are thousands of flood victims still waiting for the government support to rebuild their houses and lead a normal life. But the government has unveiled no plan, as it has done for the quake victims, to address their woes.

Ensuring rights in the constitution is not enough; their sincere implementation is also needed. It is the State which must bear the utmost responsibility to uphold human rights of its citizens by providing them with every support they need. The fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution must be fulfilled by the State.

If the rights to education, health, shelter and employment are fundamental rights the State must ensure them through policy interventions.

It has been more than one year since the new constitution came into force but the government has not even been able to form the constitutional commissions on Muslims, Tharus, Madhesis, women and Dalits.

On the other hand, the government has not taken any legal action against those found guilty of human rights violations committed after the promulgation of the new constitution.

The very rationale of the NHRC will cease to exist if its recommendations for reparation and punitive action do not get due response from the government.

Updating the list

It is good that the government is preparing to update the status of the protected species by revisiting various ecosystems and protected areas in the country.

This revision has been delayed somewhat as it was in the early 1970s that the present list of protected species and the existing ecosystems has been prepared. Various factors affecting these have undergone change over the past half-century.

The ecosystems and the protected species may not be in the same condition as they were five decades ago. In recent years some such areas were added. Further, the individual profiles of the protected species may have changed too.

Red pandas, snow leopards, Bengal tigers, one-horned rhinos, Himalayan musk deer, dolphins, swamp deer, Asiatic elephants, four-horned antelopes are among the protected mammals in Nepal. The goal of updating the list is to help conserve such species of wildlife.

There are twenty protected areas in Nepal. The adoption of any effective measures to conserve them calls for a sound knowledge of each of them.