Human rights situation The worrying trend
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted and proclaimed on December 10, 1940. Article 25.1 states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
The International Convention on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR). 1976 and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1976
oblige signatory nations to ensure human rights and UNDP also highlights human rights. Nepal is also a signatory of international human rights convention, covenants and protocols.
In this context, it can be said that human rights culture is new in Nepal. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established nine years ago while the internal conflict was continuing. However, it is still in its infancy. It is not fully equipped with sufficient staff though the Interim Constitution 2007 has upgraded the NHRC as a constitutional body. The then government was not very receptive and sensitive to appoint commissioners in time when all commissioners resigned due to upheaval in the country. So the tasks related to the completion of the cases and recommendations were disrupted due to the absence of commissioners for 15 months. Consequently, among the recommended cases, after gaining the constitutional status, only 5 per cent were fully implemented. However, the non implementation of 38 per cent recommendations made by the Commission shows that the situation is not satisfactory.
In this respect, according to the commission, 8457 complaints were registered till the fiscal year 2007-2008, whereas recommendations were made on 147 cases from among the total completed cases of 1232 and among the 1707 complaints registered after June 2008 till mid-April 2009 recommendations were made on 138 cases from among the total completed 1103 cases.
The present situation of human rights is deteriorating day by day. According to the NHRC Chairman Kedarnath Upadhaya, impunity is still rearing its ugly heads in the country as political parties are shielding criminals. Inaugurating the 25th annual general assembly of Group3, Kathmandu of Amnesty International he said that cadres mobilized by main political parties are continuing murder, violence and abduction, leading to deterioration of the human rights conditions. Upadhaya said the government has not forwarded the process of implementation though the commission has recommended the government for implementing the International Treaties against Forceful Abduction of People. The political party leaders think that they are above the law. There is no law and order in Nepal especially in Madhesh .There is a direct nexus between the criminal groups operating in Madhesh and the police and the local administration and established political actors. National Investigation Department (NID) has also confirmed this fact. Nepal is being a failed state because it does not fulfill its basic duty to protect its citizens from violence and punish the perpetrators who are responsible. Even politicians try to protect the accused.
Nepal, compared to other Asian countries, has been a significant signatory of several international conventions regarding human rights and humanitarian law. International conventions have openly denounced impunity. Nepal, as a state party to these conventions, should implement legal and constitutional measures to end impunity. It is a matter of great regret that impunity has not been addressed properly up till now. Perpetrators are not punished and the victims do not get proper justice.
Human rights abuses occurred during the democratic movement in 1990, the one decade long Maoist conflict and during the April movement of 2006 and also the Madheshi movement due to excessive use of force by security personnel.
Amnesty International (AI) recently released a report stating that a climate of impunity persisted in the country in the past year. The report says there are eight areas of human rights violations in the country. These include transitional justice, enforced disappearance, impunity, abuses by police personnel and armed groups, use of children as soldiers, torture and other forms of ill-treatment and violence against women.
On torture, the report states that national laws providing safeguards against torture fell short of international standard and were hardly implemented and that more than 1300 new cases of torture have been recorded since 2006.
There is gross violation of human rights in Madhesh in recent days. Extortion, murder, abduction and intimidation are common giving a feeling that there is no rule of law. So the government should start dialogues with the armed groups operating in Madhesh as in their names notorious groups may be taking advantages.
(Dr. Rakesh is the convener of Madhesh Human Rights Watch)