Uphold Human Rights

Published On: December 14, 2022 07:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Nepal, along with the rest of the world, marked the International Human Rights Day last Saturday. The Day is celebrated every year on December 10, to mark the proclamation of universal human rights by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. This year’s slogan is ‘Dignity, freedom and justice for all’. As a UN member state and party to several international human rights conventions and agreements, Nepal is required to uphold all universal human rights. Accordingly, Nepal’s latest constitution has guaranteed not only civil and political rights but also economic, social and cultural rights for all citizens of the country, with special emphasis on the rule of law. However, the human rights situation in the country is not satisfactory. A large section of Nepali society, especially in the rural areas of the country, still practices caste-based discrimination, witchcraft, chhaupadi, child marriage and dowry. These conservative beliefs prevalent in society pose great challenges in the realization of universal human rights. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)’s annual report for the current fiscal year 2021/22 (2078/79 BS) is full of instances of human rights violations.

According to the report which was submitted to the President on December 7, in the last fiscal year the Commission registered 101 complaints against human rights violation, monitored 221 incidents related to rights violation, and completed investigation into 503 new and old complaints. The report also said that only 15.3 percent of the NHRC’s suggestions had been fully implemented, 39.2 percent suggestions were partially implemented while a whopping 45.5 percent of its suggestions are yet to be implemented. However, the actual situation in the country is such that the instances of rights violations are far, far more than those recorded or handled by the NHRC. In the rural and remote areas of the country, Dalits are still barred from entering temples and even killed for having a love relationship with members of the so-called high castes. Women are still subjected to violence by their own family members including their husbands. There are thousands of Nepalis who are still deprived of citizenship certificates and are victims of statelessness. There are still children whose parents cannot afford to send them to school. These situations clearly demand that all stakeholders including the various organs of the state, human rights activists, politicians, social workers etc work together for the realization of all universal human rights by all citizens, based on the principle of proportional participation and inclusion in the process of equitable and just society.        

Providing justice to the victims of human rights violations is equally important. However, thousands of people who were victims of serious human rights violations during the decade-long Maoist insurgency are yet to get justice. The failure to conclude the peace process that began in the country more than 16 years ago has been a major setback in the course of promoting human rights, providing justice to the victims and punishing the guilty. Crucial transitional justice mechanisms such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) were formed only eight years after the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement between the then Maoist rebels and the Nepali state on November 21, 2006. However, though the TRC and CIEDP were formed eight years ago, neither of these transitional justice mechanisms could function properly and decisively in giving justice to the victims of even serious human rights violations that took place during the armed conflict. This was largely because of legal complexities and lack of political will. As a result, many people who should have been in jail are in parliament and in the government. It’s been months since the all-important TRC and the CIEDP have been without office-bearers. This definitely is not a good sign. The victims of the armed conflict must be given justice at any cost. Universal human rights must be upheld. 

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