HUMAN RIGHTS Righting Wrongs

Although Nepal’s human rights situation has improved following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, challenges remain for protecting the rights of all. The problem in Nepal now is to distinguish between human rights and human wrongs. Mor

Dec. 12, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 05 No.-11 Dec. 09-2011 (Mangsir 23,2068)<br>

A group of activists of CPN-UML’s sister organization staged a protest at Maitighar, in front of Singha Durbar Secretariat, paralyzing mobility of common people on the streets.


Similarly, four regional based political organizations, including Tharuhat, called general strikes in the far-western and mid-western regions last week affecting the movement of people there.


Student unions affiliated to various political parties regularly disrupt education institutions, including the primary schools, to press for their political demands.


Although five years have already passed since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government of Nepal and Maoist rebels, Nepal’s human rights activities are overwhelmingly confined to the conflict related issues. Nepal’s rights based groups spend most of their time over incidents related to conflict and security personnel while paying little attention to other equally important matters of human rights violations.


The focus by human rights activists concerning the conflict period was understandable as people had a bitter legacy of the decade-long civil war in which more than 13,000 Nepalis were killed amidst widespread extra-judicial killings, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, and other serious human-rights abuses.


Rule of law is one of the essential conditions for human rights protection. Thus, a competent and independent judiciary is the key to protect the rights. However, some of the recent decisions of the court have raised the eye-brow of common people.


Although the Supreme Court has always remained a defender of human rights in Nepal, some of its decisions are against the rights. In corruption related issues, the court ignores the individual’s basic rights. For instance, the Special Court is openly challenging the rights of individual to free trial by imposing heavy amounts of money for bail and forcing individuals to go to prison, despite the convention that bail is rule and jail is exception. In Sudan scam, the court forced all the accused to get locked in jail by imposing huge bail money.


Similarly, one of the recent verdicts was retrospective in dragging two former police chiefs to court and shattering their hope to get justice.


This was the reason the pardon recommendation to Maoist lawmaker Bal Krishna Dhungel created a major furor. Similarly, Maoist minister Prabhu Shah, Maoist leader Agni Kharel and recently a state minister for energy Surya Man Dong’s reported involvement in the killing sparked controversies. Rights organizations also objected to the promotion of security personnel reportedly involved in disappearances and extra-judicial killings.


“The Bhattarai government has made a disastrous start. The four-point agreement between the Maoists and its coalition partners calls for the withdrawal of criminal cases against people affiliated with the Maoist party and other movements (of the Madhesi, Janajati, Tharuhat, Dalit, and Pichhadabarga); as well as a general amnesty, including for people who committed serious crimes and human-rights abuses. “This would deny victims of violence and their families their fundamental rights, including the right to an effective remedy. It also threatens the principles of judicial independence and the rule of law,” said Jyoti Sanghera, head of OHCHR-Nepal




However, only rare voices can be heard on the incidents related to obstruction of human movement, deprivation of children’s rights to go to schools and so on. The problem with the state and rights organizations is that they often fail to distinguish between rights and wrongs.


Campaigners know all too well that two wrongs don't make a right. “I have to accept the fact that in the name of human rights, we sometime to fail denounce human wrongs like people’s universal rights to move freely,” said Sudip Pathak, president of Human Rights Organization of Nepal.


Human rights conflict with the principle of moral autonomy, and form an excuse for oppression. Any harm to others can be justified by claiming that it is intended to respect certain 'rights', even if it violates others.


The widespread misconceptions show that the public and even rights bodies and state authorities need better information and advice about their rights and how to bring enforcement action if their rights are breached in accessing public services.


National Human Rights Commission

Established in May 26, 2000, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is an autonomous constitutional body that has been mandated with the right to receive and take necessary actions against human rights violations. NHRC’s inquiry into the effectiveness shows that there is still a long way to go.


According to the Commission’s summary report 2000-2010, the government did not pay proper attention towards the implementation of the NHRC recommendations. The major political parties did not properly demonstrate their commitments to human rights.


The report discloses that during ten years, a total of 10,507 complaints were registered in various offices of NHRC across the country. Investigations have been carried out on significant number of those complaints. A total of 2872 complaints have been settled until May 2010. The rest 7635 complaints are under different stages of investigation. A number of them are in the process of decision making, some are in the process of further investigation and good number of them are awaiting investigation.


UN Human rights preamble

The UN human rights preamble states, “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,


Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people…”


Human Rights and Human Wrongs in Nepal

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, Nepal was not yet a member of the United Nations. During that time, the concept of human rights was hardly known in Nepal.


The first constitution promulgated by the Rana’s in 1948 did not mention the rights.


Since then Nepal has seen many human wrongs and few human rights. The legal code of the time justified caste discrimination, untouchability, and unequal treatment of women and men. Civil liberties were unknown. However, the Interim Government of Nepal Act, 1951 recognised civil liberties and fundamental rights.


All of Nepal’s political groupings abuse children in schools. Political parties organize student unions and teachers’ unions and try to mobilize them for their political agenda. They call for strikes, demonstrations and frequent closure of schools in support of their political demands, which have little to do with educational issues.


There is also the issue of protection of LGBT rights- the rights that relate to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression based on the right to respect for private life and the right not to be discriminated against on the ground of “other status” as defined in various human rights conventions. Along with this, there are also voices being raised for economic and cultural rights.


As Nepal is celebrating universal human rights day, the fundamental point is that human rights are for protection of everyone.
UN Human rights preamble

The UN human rights preamble states, “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,


Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people…”


Human Rights and Human Wrongs in Nepal

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, Nepal was not yet a member of the United Nations. During that time, the concept of human rights was hardly known in Nepal.


The first constitution promulgated by the Rana’s in 1948 did not mention the rights.


Since then Nepal has seen many human wrongs and few human rights. The legal code of the time justified caste discrimination, untouchability, and unequal treatment of women and men. Civil liberties were unknown. However, the Interim Government of Nepal Act, 1951 recognised civil liberties and fundamental rights.


All of Nepal’s political groupings abuse children in schools. Political parties organize student unions and teachers’ unions and try to mobilize them for their political agenda. They call for strikes, demonstrations and frequent closure of schools in support of their political demands, which have little to do with educational issues.


There is also the issue of protection of LGBT rights- the rights that relate to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression based on the right to respect for private life and the right not to be discriminated against on the ground of “other status” as defined in various human rights conventions. Along with this, there are also voices being raised for economic and cultural rights.


As Nepal is celebrating universal human rights day, the fundamental point is that human rights are for protection of everyone.

More on National

The Latest

Latest Magazine

VOL 12 No.05, September 21, 2018 (Ashoj. 05, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

VOL 12 No.04, September 07, 2018 (Bhadra 22, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

VOL 12 No.03, August 17, 2018 (Bhadra 01, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

VOL 12 No.02, August 03, 2018 (Shrawan 18, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75