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Nepal NGO Coalition Urges the Government to Take Proactive Leadership in Fulfilling Its Human Rights

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(25 January 2011, Geneva/Kathmandu) Today Nepal underwent its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member States once every four years under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council. During the three-hour session, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sujata Koirala, took the lead in presenting the national report and responding to the questions and concerns raised by other States.

The Nepal NGO Coalition for the UPR (NNC-UPR), a coalition representing 235 human rights and civil society organisations in Nepal, notes with appreciation that the government of Nepal at least acknowledged existing and ongoing human rights challenges in the country. However, the NNC-UPR expresses its disappointment at the rhetorical statement by the government delegation and their failure to provide any concrete commitments and timelines for the implementation of Nepal’s human rights obligations. Particularly, the NNC-UPR is troubled by the response of the government delegation who claimed today that “there is no systematic torture in Nepal”, in spite of well documented and credible reports of systematic practices of torture at the hands of State security forces.

The NNC-UPR is encouraged by the fact that its issues and concerns were adequately reflected in the interventions of various UN member States, particularly with regards to Nepal’s failure to address the culture of impunity including the investigations into the past and ongoing human rights violations committed by both State security forces and non-State actors. During today’s Review, a number of States made urgent calls to establish transitional justice mechanisms as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances, in accordance with international standards.

The wide range of discriminatory policies and practices, specifically discrimination against women, children, Dalits, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, refugees as well as religious, sexual and ethnic minorities were often raised as areas of serious concern. Attention was concentrated to situations of the rights to food, health, housing and education faced by marginalized and vulnerable groups such as Dalits, Madhesis, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities, especially the women and girls within these communities. Many States also shed light on the lack of appropriate action taken by the government of Nepal in responding to gender-based violence committed during and after the armed conflict.

Meanwhile, the NNC-UPR regrets that the government delegation avoided answering a number of key questions, particularly with regards to lack of implementation of decisions and recommendations by the courts and the national human rights institutions as well as regarding the steps to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, the Convention on the Status of Refugees, and the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.

The Nepal NGO Coalition on the UPR urges the government of Nepal to recognize that the UPR is not a one-time event. Recommendations put forward by today’s Review must be followed up through proactive leadership of the government in ensuring practical and time-bound action plans for actual implementation, upon the genuine consultations with all relevant stakeholders in the country. (ENDS)