Fill the gap

Despite repeated assurances by the state that it remained committed to the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedom in Nepal, much remains to be done in these sectors after the conflict came to an end with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) being signed between the then seven-party alliance and the Maoists. Even seven months after the formation of the government under the leadership of the UCPN-Maoist, violations of the commitments are still taking place with impunity. The present human rights situation in the country is raising international concern, and as observed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay recently, human rights are still being violated, and something needs to be done urgently about the violations during and after the conflict by both parties in the conflict. In her report submitted to the UN General Assembly recently, she urged all the parties to the peace process to do something concrete to bring about a lasting improvement in the overall human rights situation in Nepal. She rightly stressed the need for commitment from all those concerned which seems to be taking the back seat and not being given the emphasis that it should be. OHCHR-Nepal was deployed to oversee the human rights situation in Nepal, and its term is due to expire in June, 2009. As the rights situation has not improved, a 3-year extension has been sought for OHCHR-Nepal, and the government has to take the initiatives for the purpose.

The case of those made to disappear is a case that also needs to be urgently looked into. It is plain that most of the disappearances during the conflict are yet to be solved. Moreover, impunity prevails despite the regular commitments made by the government for ending it and holding those people accountable who indulged in human rights violations during and after the conflict. All this points to having the transitional-justice mechanism in place, bringing an end to impunity that has been marked in every sphere of socio-cultural milieu. All the more the NHRC also has not been able to deal effectively with the human rights violation cases. In fact, its recommendations to the government has not been translated into action. Apart from this, there is widespread discrimination in society and also in the economic and cultural spheres. Those discriminated include the so-called lower castes and also the disadvantaged ethnic communities. Although “untouchability” has been abolished, this is still found to be practiced. This is a one of the cruelest forms of rights violation.

The OHCHR-Nepal office has been consistently monitoring the overall human rights situation in the country and has only a gloomy picture to give. Given the lack of progress regarding human rights here and also the lack of security for those wishing to promote the rights and monitor these, it behooves on all concerned to support the media and civil society and others working as human rights defenders. There is reason to believe that a further extension, though with fewer personnel, and collaborative work with the NHRC, could yield encouraging results for the human rights situation which would guarantee the fruition of the development endeavours in earnest.