UN rights experts critique Nepal again

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A tree blocks a road near Butwal, Nepal during the Maoist conflict in 2005. Photo: Marty Logan

United Nations experts have critiqued draft changes to the Nepal law on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), says an editorial in this week’s Nepali Times.

In April, the experts from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, known as ‘special procedures’, took the Nepal Government to task for its slow, faulty progress in transitional justice. This time, their letter focuses on three proposals for the NHRC Act:

  1. Giving the attorney-general the power to approve the NHRC’s investigations
  2. Barring the institution from receiving any funding external to its government budget
  3. Preventing the NHRC from opening regional of sub-regional offices.

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Human rights committee directs Nepal government to take multiple actions over wartime rape

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Praying for Peace during the Maoist insurgency in Nepal (1996-2006)

Media reports focused on the need to revise rape laws to ensure access to justice but the government must also investigate the arrest, detention and rape by soldiers during the Maoist insurgency

On 21 May the UN Human Rights Committee published a decision about a Nepali woman who was abducted by Nepali soldiers during the Maoist insurgency (1996-2006), taken to army barracks, tortured, raped and forced to work for the soldiers. Then 14 years old, the girl was released six weeks later after her family intervened. Continue reading

Nepal: human rights champion or foe?

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Photo: Republic newspaper.

There’s an important editorial in this week’s edition of Nepali Times. It points out that while the Government of Nepal portrays itself as a human rights leader at the global level, at home it falls distressingly short of what’s required of a rights champion.

Not only have successive governments failed to implement a credible transitional justice process following the ceasefire between government and the Maoists in 2006, current leaders – including former Maoist fighters – are trying to curtail the powers of the National Human Rights Commission. The NHRC’s recommendations have been almost totally ignored by various governments since it started work in 2000.

Read on, from Nepali Times:

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Noncommunicable diseases in rural Nepal

Bayalpata_Hospital_screenshot_NCD_Alliance_videoFor a year now I’ve been working for the Noncommunicable Disease Alliance, known as NCD Alliance. One of the more creative things I’ve done in that time is produce a series of short videos on NCDs in rural Nepal, specifically in the district of Achham, in Nepal’s Far-West region.

NCDs refer to various non-contagious diseases, including cancers, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung diseases, as well as mental health issues. Not surprisingly when you look at that list, NCDs are responsible for more deaths each year than any other cause. Continue reading

Rural hospital an affordable model?

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Bayalpata Hospital Community Health Worker Bhajan Kunwar checks the blood pressure of Namsara Tamrakar at her home in Chandika village, Achham district, Nepal, Feb. 2018.

Below is the article I wrote for Nepali Times after visiting Bayalpata Hospital in Nepal’s Achham district. Achham is often described as “remote” but we drove there easily in 9 hours from a main city, paved roads all the way, and jolted by fewer potholes than you’ll suffer driving in Kathmandu.

Though it appears long for the Times, the article leaves out a lot that I would have liked to say about Bayalpata. Continue reading

Will Nepal’s election to United Nations body benefit global human rights?

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A cartoon from issue 702 of Nepali Times (11-17 April 2014). It depicts former Prime Minister Girija P Koirala (left) and former Maoist leader Pushpa K Dahal.

Nepal has successfully won a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, the senior-most human rights body among the world’s governments.

The Himalayan nation was elected for a two-year term during the recent UN General Assembly, despite a rocky human rights record at home. This includes setting up commissions to probe alleged human rights abuses during the 1996-2006 Maoist uprising that fail to meet global standards, and ignoring orders from Nepal’s Supreme Court to fix them.

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Rights at home first

MartyLogan_NepalHumanRightsCouncil_101017The consensus among human rights experts who I interviewed recently is that Nepal should fix its own human rights record before bidding for a seat on the United Nations human rights council—or at least do both simultaneously. Continue reading