Deadly malnutrition persists in Nepal

Malnutrition_Saptari_Shambhu_Family

The parents of Shambhu Kumar Ram, 17, who died of malnutrition in Nepal’s Saptari district in 2016.

Two articles that I wrote about malnutrition in Nepal were published in today’s Nepali Times weekly. One is about a shocking case from Saptari district, the other focused on the government’s plan to fight malnutrition.

Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for follow-up work. This is a complex but important issue.

Nepal’s election: little hope for the families of victims of the conflict

The shocking photo of murdered Nepal teacher Muktinath Adhikari.

The photo of teacher Muktinath Adhikari, killed in 2002 and left tied to a tree by Maoist insurgents, shocked the nation, and beyond. (c) Nepali Times.

Elections take place on Nov. 19 for a new constituent assembly in Nepal. Despite fears of not achieving a ‘free and fair’ vote – and even the possibility of violence – many Nepalis hope desperately that the exercise will set the country on the path to recovery six years after the end of conflict between the state and Maoist insurgents.

Relatives of victims of human rights abuses during the conflict are less hopeful.

Earlier this year the caretaker government led by the former chief justice introduced an ordinance that would provide amnesty to perpetrators of human rights abuses committed during the 10-year conflict. There are reports that political parties vying for election are promising to finally get to the truth behind the abuses during the conflict, but not that they will embark on punishing those responsible. Continue reading

Nepal’s leaders continue to protect their own from human rights probes

As Human Rights Day nears (Dec 10) Amnesty International has called for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) to remain in Nepal.

OHCHR-Nepal’s mandate expires on Dec. 8, 2011.

More importantly, for me, Amnesty points out “Political parties in the current government and Constituent Assembly – parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) – vowed to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and also to create a commission to investigate disappearances that occurred during the armed conflict.

“Five years later, Nepalis who lost loved ones, who suffered serious harm are still waiting for truth and justice,” it concludes.

The full press release is below:

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PUBLIC STATEMENT

6 December 2011

AI Index ASA 31/010/2011

OHCHR’s mandate in Nepal critically important to safeguarding rights, assuring accountability for past violations

The Government of Nepal, with support from the UN’s Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, should work more diligently to promote rule of law, resist political pressures to grant amnesty to war-time violators and make good on other important human rights commitments made in Nepal’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

This includes establishing fair and effective transitional justice mechanisms that ensure accountability for violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and a new constitution that upholds the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international humanitarian and human rights instruments protecting civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights.

Article 9 of Nepal’s CPA mandates OHCHR to monitor the implementation of these rights commitments and supporting national human rights institutions until the peace process concludes.

This important work has a long way to go.

Political parties in the current government and Constituent Assembly – parties to the CPA, vowed to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and also to create a commission to investigate disappearances that occurred during the armed conflict.

Five years later, Nepalis who lost loved ones, who suffered serious harm are still waiting for truth and justice.

End/

Red cross relief for northern Canada community

The Canadian Red Cross delivered aid to the aboriginal community of Attawapiskat on Tuesday. One month ago the community declared a state of emergency over housing conditions as winter approached.

(See my previous post).

According to AFP, the Red Cross delivered generators, heaters, winter clothing and insulated sleeping equipment.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pointed a finger at the community itself for not spending money provided by his government wisely. However, as the Canadian Press pointed out, the Auditor General previously warned Harper’s government that there was no proper oversight of money being provided for housing on First Nations and that the levels provided were based on dated information.

No doubt more will join the blame game in the glare of the current media spotlight. But are any of the politicians now flying in to show their concern prepared to make the long-term investment needed to tackle this situation, which is repeated in many other aboriginal communities across this country?

And if they’re not, what does that say about Canada?

14 reasons to oppose child marriage

According to Because I am a Girl, Canada, The babies of child brides are 60% more likely to die before their first birthday, compared to those of women older than 19.

Here are 14 more facts about the dangers of child marriage.

Supreme Court orders rights education in schools to combat violence against women

Another good decision by Nepal’s court. The challenge will be implementing it.

The day begins at a school in lower Mustang district, Marty Logan photo

Himalayan News Service
11 June 2010

KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court has directed the government to include human rights education in school and college syllabi to combat discrimination and violence against women.

“Include core human rights issues in school and college syllabus and launch awareness programmes to combat violence and discrimination against women,” a division bench of justices Bala Ram KC and Bharat Raj Upreti said in a verdict today, responding to a Public Interest Litigation filed by advocate Jyoti Lamsal Poudel three years ago.

Observing that laws and policies meant to eliminate violence against women had gone unimplemented, the bench argued that stress should be on the implementation of laws and policies. It said that collective efforts are a must for the protection of women’s rights.

The bench told authorities—the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Ministry of Law and Justice and the Ministry of Home Affairs—to take initiatives for the protection of women’s rights, stressing the use of media in the crusade for the protection of their rights.

“Partnership with NGOs will go a long way in eliminating discrimination and violence against women,” the bench observed.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the weak implementation of the Convention on Elimination All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) even two decades after its ratification, the apex court issued a five-point directive meant to fight violence against women.

The apex court told the government to strictly implement the CEDAW by promulgating an Act criminalising discrimination and violence against women.

Stating that social perception treating men as superior compared to women is a major problem, the bench called on the government to address this issue systematically.

The apex court also emphasised the need to impart vocational training to women and provide them jobs for their development, adding that such measures will help eliminate violence and discrimination against women.

The bench also told authorities concerned to do their bit to make sure that women do not abort their studies.

Human rights and impunity in Nepal

A group of interesting articles in today’s Republica newspaper. (Myrepublica is the online site).

The first is an interview with the head of the UN human rights office in Nepal (my former boss – I worked at OHCHR-Nepal from 2007 to June, 2009).

In the interview Richard Bennett reiterates that the government and Maoists are doing nothing in response to multiple allegations of human rights abuses during and after the conflict (1996-2006), in essence strengthening the climate of impunity in Nepal.

The second article is a report that one of the accused in one of Nepal’s best-known cases of human rights abuse during the conflict – the case of Maina Sunuwar – is working in a UN peacekeeping mission.

The third, and headline article in the paper quotes the US Embassy in Kathmandu saying that the US will withdraw financial support to Nepal if the proposed Chief of Army staff is appointed without having undergone a thorough, independent review of allegations that he was responsible for human rights violations during the conflict.

I have said for some time now that it won’t be moral suasion that forces Nepal’s government to respond to such allegations and that hitting their bottom line would be more effective.