Let it continue

The concern over the future of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is the latest addition to the litany of crises dogging the body politic, and the course of political and constitutional developments. Formed as part of the government commitment to adhere and comply with human rights obligations nearly five years ago, the NHRC has assuredly played a pretty important role in keeping the candle of hope burning for those who have faced the worst from the security forces as well as the Maoist rebels. It goes without saying that the governments in poorer parts of the world, including in Nepal, have not been so particular about protecting and upholding human rights. This brings to vivid relief the continued significance of the human rights agency.

That is especially important when the political process has tended to drift dangerously with the constitutional forces bogged down by technical and legal contentions. Which brings to fore the issue of letting the incumbent team led by Nain Bahadur Khatri that completes coming Thursday its five-year term continue in office or not. Meanwhile, rather than reviewing its performance, of immediate interest is whether the new one will be deemed legitimate in the present circumstances. In fact, the problem of putting together a new team to replace the outgoing one is increasingly becoming complicated. More so in the light of the possibility of the government appointing a team which may not be acceptable, let alone command as much credibility.

This explains why the leaders cutting across the seven-party alliance have in recent days come around to supporting the idea of the current team remaining in office until necessary legalities are put in place. Given the situation the government would do well to let the Khatri team continue for some more time. This is particularly important in view of the fact that OHCHR has already set up a monitoring office in Kathmandu and will shortly be opening branches in other parts of the country. There has to be a Nepali counterpart agency. The vacuum is not desirable from any standpoint. Besides, the presence of an effective human rights body in the country will prove beneficial to the citizens who do now and then seek the NHRC’s intervention.