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

MartyBlogNepalHRC_211017

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

Time stands still for Nepal’s conflict victims

Suman Adhikari poses with a photo of his father Muktinath,

Suman Adhikari poses with a photo of his father Muktinath, one of the 17,000 victims of Nepal’s conflict, 1996-2006.

I set out to write an article about the vision underlying Nepal’s transitional justice (TJ) process — was the focus on truth, reparations, justice? etc. — but I quickly understood that any such theorizing was quickly overtaken by political leaders’ desire to use TJ to absolve them of responsibility.

Instead, I focused on some of the victims in this article for IPS News. I understand that efforts are being made to draft amendments to the laws creating the truth and disappearance commissions. If anyone has details, contact me.

“Reconstruction and reconciliation require finances and physical structure, but the families of the victims of the conflict first and foremost need their integrity protected. Physical and financial compensation mean little without justice,” wrote Suman Adhikari nearly 11 years ago, during a ceasefire in Nepal’s Maoist insurgency. Continue reading

Conflict victims a casualty of Nepal’s transitional justice process

2006 People's Movement

Praying for Peace

I recently reviewed a report by the Nepal office International Centre for Transitional Justice and Martin Chautari, a think-tank in Kathmandu. The focus was what ‘truth’ means for victims of the 10-year Maoist insurgency. I wrote:

Referring to the dysfunctional truth and disappearance commissions the report says: ‘So far only a relatively narrow constituency of two broadly opposing sides has been involved in debates. Among national and international NGOs, human rights lawyers, and victims’ groups, the dominant discourse has focused on the demand for individual criminal accountability, while government leaders and representatives of the major political parties and security forces have worked to ensure that criminal prosecution and trials are completely off the table.’

Read my full article on the website of Nepali Times.

I’ve written previously about the conflict and its victims, including this blog post.

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/