UN Committee on ESCR Considers Report of Nepal
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has considered the second periodic report of Nepal on the country's progress on those fronts.
The United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland released the following information on Nepal:
Committee on Economic, Social And Cultural Rights Considers Report of Nepal
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has considered the second periodic report of Nepal on how that country implements the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Trilochan Upreti, Joint Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister of Nepal and head of the delegation, said the report was an additional testimony of Nepal's unfailing efforts to timely comply with its reporting obligations under various international human rights instruments which also demonstrated its deep desire to recognise, respect and fulfil its commitments. Realising the fact that democracy, development and sustainable peace could not flourish in a society where universally recognised human rights of the people, including economic, social and cultural rights, were not fully observed and respected, the Comprehensive Peace Accord had made commitments to end all forms of feudalism, enunciate and implement a minimum common programme of socio-economic transformation, formulate policies for scientific land reform, and guarantee rights relating to education, health, shelter, employment and food security.
Among questions asked by the Experts were how the Government intended to fulfil its goals and objectives on a wide range of issues including women and Dalits; what had been the success rate in measures aimed at helping internally displaced persons to return to their homes and what policies were projected for the future in this regard; whether there were interim reports that could clarify whether the protection level had been improved; what the Government was doing to protect the economic, social and cultural rights of Nepalese migrant workers living abroad; did the Government intend to carry out genuine land reform in order to ensure or improve access to food for the landless, small-scale peasants and the poor; the right to housing and the fact that the right to shelter was mentioned in the Constitution, and did the Government therefore intend to provide low-cost housing specially to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized groups; and the lack of real determined action to protect cultures and what the State was doing to remedy this as it had specific obligations in this regard.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Upreti said the two days of intensive interaction with the Committee had been an important opportunity to share Nepal's efforts made in the progressive realisation of the rights enshrined in the Covenant. Nepal was fully aware that it had a long way to go, and there was no room for complacency for a country with its level of socio-economic development that had just found a way out of a decade-long conflict. The challenges were enormous, however Nepal had every reason to be optimistic on the road taken, and was committed to nurture and consolidate the policy and implementation mechanisms to further realise the rights of the Covenant, for the good of the people.
Philippe Texier, Chairperson of the Committee, in concluding remarks, said the delegation was to be thanked for its efforts in giving a precise description of the difficulties met by Nepal, and the efforts made. The Committee Members thanked the delegation for its efforts and for the constructive dialogue, and were aware of the difficulties experienced by the country.
The delegation of Nepal also included representatives of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The concluding observations of the Committee on the report of Nepal will be issued towards the end of the session, which concludes on Friday, 20 May.
Report of NepalThe second periodic report of Nepal (E/C.12/NPL/2) covers various developments in the area of human rights regarding economic, social and cultural aspects from 2000 to 2006. While preparing the report, the Government has also tried to explain the extent of progress made in the areas of concerns raised by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on 22-23 August 2001. During the time of reporting, a great change has undergone in the political governance of the country. Some of the developments have been included in the text while some could not be incorporated. Political events have been taking place and the situation is ever changing now. The Government of Nepal reiterates its full commitment to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Nepal has enacted and implemented several laws in order to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. In the present context of Nepal, due to the changing political and social scenario, people have become more conscious regarding their rights. This has led the Government to be more responsive towards providing basic human rights to the people, especially to women, socially and economically deprived people, Dalits and the indigenous nationalities. In order to address the concern of these people, the Government has made attempts to amend laws and regulations and enact necessary legislation and to implement them. The Government has been trying to reduce the existing poverty through implementing strategic plans and programmes. Also, Nepal has been undertaking several measures to protect the rights of orphans, helpless women, the aged and the disabled along with others.
Despite the enormous effort made by the Government to provide economic, social and cultural rights to the Nepalese citizens, there still remain some hurdles in obtaining these rights. Due to the decade-long insurgency and unstable political situation, most of the enacted Acts could not be enforced at the proper time and place, development works were stagnated and physical infrastructure was destroyed. Also, financial constraints were blamed for not making timely progress on some issues.
Presentation of Report
TRILOCHAN UPRETI, Joint Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister of Nepal, said Nepal was committed to universally recognised human rights norms and standards, which remained undiminished even during the difficult time caused by the deadly conflict over the past decade. The Government had remained committed to protecting and promoting human rights and abiding by its treaty obligations. The report was an additional testimony of Nepal's unfailing efforts to timely comply with its reporting obligations under various international human rights instruments which also demonstrated its deep desire to recognise, respect and fulfil its commitments. Following the success of the peaceful historic people's movement of April 2006, the people of Nepal had reasserted and restored the sovereign and state authority of Nepal once and for all.
The Comprehensive Peace Accord provided for respect for an unfettered enjoyment of human rights, restitution of property, and safe and dignified return of the internally displaced persons, protection and promotion of the rights of children, women, and disadvantaged and downtrodden people, and the formation of a National Peace and Rehabilitation Commission to initiate the process of rehabilitation and provide relief support to the victims of the conflict, and to normalise and stabilise life. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had been mandated to monitor the human rights situation in the country, and had been recognised as an important part of the ongoing peace process. The Government of Nepal had extended exemplary cooperation to the work of the Office in Nepal, which had been fully acknowledged by the Human Rights Council in its previous sessions as well as by the High Commissioner.
An unfettered environment was available for the civil society sector to flourish and function in the areas of their concerns. Nepal was in transition after a decade-long conflict. In the present peace-building process, the issue of human rights was the centre point. Realising the fact that democracy, development and sustainable peace could not flourish in a society where universally-recognised human rights of the people, including economic, social and cultural rights, were not fully observed and respected, the Comprehensive Peace Accord had made commitments to end all forms of feudalism, enunciate and implement a minimum common programme of socio-economic transformation, formulate policies for scientific land reform, and to guarantee rights relating to education, health, shelter, employment and food security. Likewise, it had been agreed to adopt policies to provide land and socio-economic security to socio-economically backward groups.
Questions by Committee Members
Taking up articles one to five of the Covenant, Experts raised a range of questions and issues, including whether the State party had followed up on comments made and improved the situation with regards to acts of law enforcement officials; what was the situation with regards to changes in the judicial system; whether economic, social and cultural rights were justiciable and to what extent; the extent of discrimination against Dalits and whether there were any positive discrimination measures that were adapted to their specific situation; what was being done with regards to Tibetan and Bhutanese refugees and the protection of their rights; whether there was any general or national plan for insurgents or rebel fighters; to what extent there was protection against discriminatory practices in the areas controlled by radical communist groups; to what extent judges and courts were independent and impartial in the provinces and outside the capital; how the Government intended to fulfil its goals and objectives on a wide range of issues including women and Dalits; what had been the success rate in measures aimed at helping internally displaced persons to return to their homes and what policies were projected for the future in this regard; and how the delegation saw the future political development of the country.
Response by Delegation
TRILOCHAN UPRETI, Joint Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister of Nepal, responding, said that the questions were appreciated, as they showed the Experts' concern and analysis of the difficult situation in Nepal. It was very difficult to implement and comply with all the conditions laid out in the Covenant with regards to economic, social and cultural rights. Despite being a least-developed country with a decade-long civil war-like situation, Nepal had been moving forward to establish peace and stability, and to deal with the many challenges to implement all the provisions of the Covenant.
The flow of questions showed, the delegation said, the interest paid by the Committee in the economic, social and cultural rights of the people of Nepal, and how the international community was working to help Nepal realise these rights. The report was an attempt to give a true picture of the situation in the country. With regards to the independence of the judiciary, it was fully independent. Even in the last Constitution, this provision had been included. The international community and the Committee members were asked to believe in this independence. There was a provision for establishing a specific type of court for investigating corruption and tax issues, but not for specific cases. Many cases on economic, social and cultural rights had been dealt with by the courts, such as environmental cases and others where the judiciary had intervened in order to give direct orders to the Government. The Constitution contained a provision for positive discrimination: the country could make a law for specific communities and groups that were in need. The Civil Service Act was in the process of being amended, and this also contained positive discrimination with regards to the minorities joining the civil service.
The new Constitution had incorporated various economic, social and cultural rights and other fundamental rights, and those that were not considered fundamental rights were still recognised by the State, the delegation said. The Government had asked the Human Rights Commission to examine the report that had been submitted, and their comments had been incorporated therein. Regarding the Optional Protocol to the Covenant, Nepal was not able to move forward on this matter currently, but the Government was studying it. Corruption was something which stopped the country from moving forwards, and it had taken steps to eliminate this problem.
On discrimination against Dalits, the delegation said this was a criminal act, should be punished as such, and there were penal sanctions in this regard. There had been some court cases, and the courts had fined those guilty of discrimination. Nepal was a country of various multi-ethnic groups, and was undertaking a survey to determine exactly who was in the country. There were also various laws and provisions to eliminate discrimination against women, and the Ministry of Justice was considering a draft law on violence against women. Women and men had equal rights. Nepal had a specific foreign aid policy, which systemised how foreign aid loans were used, ensuring their effectiveness, including in the social sector, as this would improve the situation and way of life of the poor, helping to raise the human rights of the people. The international community was concentrating on rural areas in this regard.
On the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the delegation said that in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement there was a clause that said that in order to address the gross human rights violations of the past, including of economic, social and cultural rights, such a Commission should be established. Nepal was aware of the fact that international courts, regional courts and treaty bodies had recognised the right to know the truth for both victims and their relatives. There were various norms and models to constitute and establish this Commission, including through executive order or statutory provision. There was wide-based consultation to this effect, and it appeared that there was wide support for such a Commission, based on a statutory provision.
The political parties and the Government were considering and would be declaring a Constitutional Assembly, after which they would have to clarify their political stance. On the implementation of the Committee's recommendations, not all of these had been implemented, as there were some technical problems. However, the Government was working on this, and was committed to implementing the majority of these recommendations fully. It was hoped that in the years to come these problems would not remain.
The armed conflict over ten years in a country of limited socio-economic development had had a considerable impact on all of the society, and it would naturally take some time to rebuild society and to help lift it free from the bonds of the conflict. However, Nepalese society was very resilient; people were hard working, and there was great international support for the rebuilding of the country. It was hoped the country would not only be rebuilt, but the Peace Process as a whole would take it in a sustainable direction towards stability and healing. So far, there were grounds for optimism.
Continuing to respond, the delegation said with regards to internally displaced persons, a policy in their regard had been formulated before the end of the conflict, although this did not incorporate the guiding principles of the United Nations, and was insufficiently comprehensive. The policy was therefore being reformulated by the Government, with the participation of multiple stakeholders including civil society and different United Nations organizations and agencies. After the end of the conflict, there had been encouraging signs of voluntary returns, and those who did not return voluntarily had been given monetary incentives by the Government, as well as transportation and aid for small income-generating enterprises.
On reconstruction of schools and classrooms, this process had been ongoing even during the conflict, when the Government had been rebuilding and restructuring the schools that were destroyed. This year the Government had allocated 980 million Nepalese rupees for the refurbishment of classrooms. A Peace Fund was in place, and there had been positive signals received from the donor communities that they would actively participate in ensuring that there was an adequate amount in that fund, the delegation said. The Government had decided to distribute citizenship on the basis of birth, among other criteria, and certificates had been distributed to that effect.
The Maoist combatants had been confined to cantonments, their arms confiscated and kept by the United Nations, and they were currently going through a verification process in order to determine, among other things, the age of the combatants, the delegation said.
In follow-up questions, Experts asked, among other things, for further details, with one Expert saying that she was not satisfied with most of the answers to her questions; the situation of the National Human Rights Commission and whether its establishment was to be further postponed; what was the Government doing to enable the armed police force and the Nepalese Police Force to deal with the unrest in certain districts with a minimal use of force; whether the population was aware of the Constitutional principles, given the relatively high level of illiteracy, and whether these were translated into minority languages; and what the real problem was with regards to the land-owners of lands of indigenous peoples and whether this ownership by the indigenous was recognised.
Responding, the delegation said the members of the Human Rights Commission had not been appointed yet, not because there was no will to do so, but because there were so many other pressing issues the Government had to deal with, and therefore the Government had not been able to make the appointments. However, the process had begun. The Commission, as an institution, was in existence, and had been carrying out investigations in the field, accompanied by representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a monitoring role. There was total autonomy for non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations in Nepal to fulfil their work. With regards to encouragement to police to use minimal force, police used as little force as possible to stop and prevent vandalism and protect people's lives. The army and the police were given mandatory human rights education as part of their training. On land ownership by indigenous people, the nature of land ownership in Nepal was totally different from that in other countries, and no indigenous persons or groups had been denied their land right, nor had their land been confiscated.
In the Government sector, Government officials were trained at various levels on the provisions of international human rights agreements. Schools taught constitutional rights and other human rights in the curriculum from very early on. All Governmental agencies were eager to disseminate the provisions of international human rights treaties to the people of Nepal, and did so in various ways. The election of the Constitutional Assembly had been delayed, but this would not delay the appointment of the members of the National Human Rights Commission, the delegation said.
Questions by Experts
Taking up articles six to nine of the Covenant, Experts asked questions on such topics as whether there were interim reports that could clarify whether the protection level had been improved; what the Government was doing to protect the economic, social and cultural rights of Nepalese migrant workers living abroad, in particular in India; what the Government intended to achieve with regards to the abolition of the worst forms of child labour; issues linked to the salaries of minors; whether there were any programmes for increasing local employment of indigenous women; whether there was any formal position or role for the trade unions, in particular those organised on the national level, in the process of social dialogue, especially after 2006 when the clashes in the country came to an end; and what Nepal had done to ensure that financial flows of remittances from Nepalese working abroad occurred at a reasonable rate, with facilitated and cheaper transfers.
Response by Delegation
Responding, the delegation said Nepal had ratified and was a party to various international conventions, and was considering certain ILO conventions in this regard. There were some special packages and programmes for those who had been subjected to bonded labour. There were various training institutions that were expanding their role in and out the country. On migrant workers, in particular those in India, Nepal had a special relationship with India, and there was a long tradition of a large number of Indian workers in Nepal as well as vice versa.
On the employment of women, of course the Government was trying to increase women's participation in the public sector. The participation of women was not currently very positive, but the Government had plans, including affirmative action, to increase this. On the informal sector, there were various programmes such as micro-finance projects which had taken place, with income-generating activities and training for women and the handicapped. There was a skills-development centre which provided training to various communities, and indigenous people were encouraged to attend. On comprehensive social security measures, these did not exist, but there was coverage in individual sectors.
The trade union act, enacted in 1992, recognised trade union, and even the Parliament had recently extended the right for civil servants up to a certain grade to join a trade union. The unions were recognised by law, and were an important part of the system, establishing dialogue between the Government and employers. There was a foreign employment act, the delegation said, and the Government was taking care of migrant workers. Recently one amendment to the Foreign Employment Act had been submitted to the Parliament.
In follow-up questions, Experts asked for clarifications on the amendment of the Foreign Employment Act and whether this had been put into practice; whether there was an annual update of the minimum age; the right to work for indigenous people; and whether the Government was considering ratifying the ILO convention on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Responding, the delegation said the Government had attempted to incorporate further measures of protection for migrant workers abroad into the revision of the Act. Migrant workers were looked after by a Government department. There was a mandatory provision for migrant workers to be given orientation and a form of training before leaving to work abroad. Nepal was trying to enter into bilateral agreements with those countries which had a large Nepalese population of workers. On working minors, there were some of these, but they were involved in very light work. They were not less than 14 years of age, and until the age of 16 were involved in very light work. On minimum wages, the trade unions were well recognised, and they also took care of the benefits and rights of the workers. The system of minimum wage was reviewed. On ratification of ILO Convention 169 on indigenous peoples, this was under review, but it required some changes within Nepal itself.
Questions by Experts
Moving to articles 10 to 12 of the Covenant, Experts asked, among other things, questions related to land reform, noting that most of the land was held by a small number of people, and pointing out that there was clearly a need for land reform in this regard, and did the Government intend to carry out genuine land reform in order to ensure or improve access to food for the landless, small-scale peasants and the poor; the right to housing and the fact that the right to shelter was mentioned in the Constitution, and did the Government therefore intend to provide low-cost housing specially to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized groups; issues related to the continuance of problems with registering births; why the quality of housing was so low as to ensure that a large majority was either categorised as temporary or semi-permanent; why there were short-comings in policies to deal with cases of forced evictions and the need to provide further figures and facts in this regard; the extent to which the human right to water was taken seriously in the country; how many mobile outreach programmes had been set up and what results had been achieved in ensuring a fuller degree of health coverage; what was being done with regards for the reportedly increasing figures of HIV/AIDS infection; and the incidence of child forced marriages, despite laws and measures against it.
Response by Delegation
Responding, the delegation said to tackle these articles was a huge task for a Member State, even though this was a very important issue, in particular for a country that was highly affected by poverty and a least-developed country which had also faced other problems such as conflict. The Experts' suggestions would be most helpful in days to come. Implementing these articles required huge resources, and the Government was doing its best to implement these rights for its people. The quality of housing may not be of the standards which the international community expected, but shelter was nevertheless provided. On the Dalit community and the access to water, by law, there should be no discrimination, and if this took place then it was a criminal offence. However, such things did happen in rural areas, and were therefore taken to the district court, which prosecuted and had punished such crimes.
There were some bad customary traditions which the Government was working to reverse, and these included forced marriages and child marriages, which were a social practice which the Government believed would be changed. On making primary education compulsory, this was a matter of concern, and the new Constitution had made primary education free. So far, no law had been enacted against violence against women, however, the matter was under review, and certain acts would be criminalized and women further protected. On the independence of the National Women's Commission, this had existed, but it did not enjoy independence, and civil society had demanded a statutory body. The new Commission would be very active, with the participation of civil society, and would be able to protect the rights of women, the delegation said. The Government had recently enacted the Senior Citizens Act in 2006, and a new Plan of Action had been formulated, clearly mentioning the role of civil society in this context. Efforts were being made to identify former child combatants.
On what were the main difficulties in implementing economic, social and cultural rights, these were included in the report, which was an honest account, the delegation said. The main problem was the lack of resources, and there was also a need for expertise. However, the commitment existed, and the Government was committed to achieving change.
Questions by Experts
Taking up articles 13 to 15, Experts asked, among other things, whether a fifth-grade education was no longer free and had to be paid for; about issues linked to literacy rates and what was being done to increase these; what the Government was doing to promote education among Dalits and the disparities between male and female teachers; issues linked to the large number of ethnic minorities and castes and why only a limited number of these minorities were legally identified as such; the lack of real determined action to protect cultures and what the State was doing to remedy this as it had specific obligations in this regard; issues of vital access to ancestral lands by indigenous peoples due to a lack of official documents; to what extent segregation along caste lines still existed in the country; to what extent human rights were part of the curricula at the secondary and university level; what were the programmes and specific measures that were being taken to change socio-cultural models which had allowed illegal trafficking in persons to take hold, particularly among vulnerable groups such as women and indigenous groups; and what measures were taken to ensure that women did have access to property and inheritance rights.
Response by Delegation
TRILOCHAN UPRETI, Joint Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister of Nepal, responding to these questions, said with regards to the right to education, its provision and progress in Nepal, realising that education was a key to basic human rights and key to their enjoyment, the Government was doing its best to enhance various levels and aspects of education, with attention given to increasing enrolment in primary school education, and enhanced literacy programmes. Girls' enrolment in primary school was about 46 per cent. The share of Dalit enrolment was about 6 per cent. On whether education was free, this was the case from grades one to five, and public schools also provided free textbooks. Dalit children also received scholarships, as did a large proportion of girls.
On the 60 per cent who were still outside education, this was due to various socio-economic reasons, and the Government had taken a wide range of measures to reach the target of education and to increase these figures, including outreach programmes and enrolment weeks with a Welcome To School campaign encouraging parents to send their children to school, Mr. Upreti said. Considering the low literacy rate in the country, the Government had introduced measures in both the formal and informal education system, with various programmes aimed at increasing this. At primary school, there were about 30 per cent of female schoolteachers, which dropped to 8.6 per cent at secondary school. The Government had a policy of having at least one female teacher per school.
There were about 38 per cent of female students in higher education. There were currently five universities, 80 constituent colleges, and 393 affiliated colleges. On whether education could improve national unity and identity, the curriculum was designed to favour this. On human rights education in colleges and universities, there was human rights education at the high-school level, and the Ministry of Education was aiming to provide this from the beginning of education. The Law and Education departments of the universities gave human rights education to their students, Mr. Upreti said. The Ministry of Education and Culture had provided a programme for education in the mother tongue and on multi-lingual education since 2004.
Nepal was rich in cultural heritage, with many cultures that were of international importance. It had enacted an Act in 2002 for the protection of the indigenous nationalities, their development, and that of their culture, Mr. Upreti said. An organisation looked after all temples and places of historical interest, and this body worked to protect and promote the cultural importance of the past. Recently, the Government had established three different academies to examine the different aspects of Nepalese past and heritage.
On property rights, previously females were not allowed these, but changes had been made and a new Act introduced now gave women full property rights. At this stage, it was difficult to determine if they were really enjoying this right, and it would take time to produce disaggregated data as to whether they were really de jure owners, Mr. Upreti said.
On trafficking in persons, the delegation said that Nepal had been aware of the problem for several years, and had undertaken multi-pronged activities on several levels to stop this phenomenon, enforce the law, and rehabilitate victims. The problem was mainly girls from certain areas being trafficked to big cities in India where they were sold for sexual purposes. In recent years, the Government and non-Governmental sector had made considerable efforts to prevent this curse, with targeted programmes being implemented in the affected area and trafficking-prone areas, including awareness raising, microfinance activities and others. There was a strong legislative framework to control this heinous crime, with serious penalties imposed on those guilty of trafficking. Rehabilitation was also provided to the victims of trafficking on various levels.
In practice, the delegation said, there had not been an overwhelming rise in claims on property rights by daughters. On segregation in schools and issues between upper and lower castes, there was no segregation. People were in mixed communities, and worked together. People from different castes could study in the same schools. There were maybe some cases of segregation in remote areas, and in order to remedy this, the Government had carried out various campaigns, but it took time to eliminate such practices in rural areas.
In follow-up questions and comments, Experts asked if the State party was aware that there was a World Programme for Human Rights Education which the United Nations had begun, which required certain specific plans of action on how to integrate human rights education into national educational systems, including a rights-based approach to education, and training teachers; a request for details of a specific case in which a specific person was punished for trafficking; whether primary education was truly free; what efforts were being made to educate people about their human rights, in particular the right to justice; the need to make women aware of their property rights and that this was enforceable, and to sensitise men to the issue; what legal or other criteria had been used to recognise only 79 of approximately 100 ethnic groups in the country; the need for the Government to set itself benchmarks, targets and aims in areas where it realised that there were problems and to clarify how these could be achieved in the next five years; the need for more targeted programmes and policies to combat poverty among women; and the need for the rapid appointment of a National Human Rights Commission.
Responding to these questions, Mr. Upreti said on human rights education, this was not limited only to schools, colleges and universities: this was in fact the outcome of the National Human Rights Action Plan, following which the curriculum had been revised to introduce human rights courses. The Ministry of Law and Justice was launching programmes to educate the population on human rights standards and norms all over the country, with particular focus on judicial and security personnel. Nepal did not necessarily have schoolrooms of an international standard, but was doing its best to rebuild and create schools that were of such standards. Basic education was from grades one to five, thus was equivalent to primary education. There was also pre-primary education. The Government considered primary education to be a basic right, and was working on extending free primary education from grades one to eight. The Government encouraged both students and parents to enrol in schools with various facilities and incentives.
The members of the National Human Rights Commission would be named and confirmed at a later date, but a lot of the work of the Commission was already being done. There was huge interest in ensuring women's right to property at a national level, and it was a highly recognised issue. The Government and civil society were extending considerable efforts to make women aware of their rights. Efforts had been made to include benchmarks, challenges and difficulties in the report, and the new initiatives taken by the Government in this regard had been included in the report, Mr. Upreti said. The Government believed that the education of women was of prime importance, as it had a positive impact on the family as a whole. There was a range of national plans of action on such issues as trafficking, which were interlinked with other issues. The Women's Human Rights Commission should be strengthened, and the Government was providing resources and other necessities to the Commission.
There was a resettlement plan, Mr. Upreti said, in cases of forced eviction, and there was also a form of compensation. There were no cases of ethnic groups being evicted, and this should not take place. Those who held property deeds could not be barred from their property without due process of law. There was a problem with regards to access to safe drinking water, and the Government was working on making it accessible to all.
With regards to trafficking, the delegation said that it did not currently have examples of a specific case, but there were several cases under prosecution, and there had been several where individuals had been prosecuted and tried by the courts, and were currently serving sentences. Details of these would be provided in writing in a few days. There were not many cases of women claiming property, but what cases had been brought had been successful. Nepal agreed that it needed resolute and specific programmes to increase awareness of human rights.
An Expert pointed out that it was extremely important to underline the ongoing problem of internally displaced persons. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, formed in November 2006 engaged the two sides of the conflict to ensure the safe return, rehabilitation and reintegration of the internally displaced persons, of which there had been at least 200,000. There was remaining concern for the situation, despite the pledges given by both sides. There were continuing reports, including by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, noting that the violations of basic rights of internally displaced persons continued, including victimisation, reprisals, and bad treatment, in addition to killings when these returned to their homes.
Responding to this, the delegation said that this was a problem, but it was not a generalised problem. In a few cases, internally displaced persons who had returned to their place of origin had been disturbed. The Government had been trying very hard to instruct regional organizations to cooperate with the safe return of internally displaced persons and to sort this problem out.
TRILOCHAN UPRETI, Joint Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister of Nepal, in concluding remarks, said the two days of intensive interaction with the Committee had been an important opportunity to share Nepal's efforts made in progressive realisation of the rights enshrined in the Covenant. Nepal appreciated the enormous interest and goodwill shown by the Committee, and considered that the interaction was frank, open and constructive, and was impressed by the genuine will expressed by Committee members in suggesting ways to further enhance the implementation of the rights in the Covenant in Nepal.
Nepal was fully aware that it had a long way to go, and there was no room for complacency for a country with its level of socio-economic development that had just found a way out of a decade-long conflict. The challenges were enormous, however Nepal had every reason to be optimistic on the road taken, and was committed to nurture and consolidate the policy and implementation mechanisms to further realise the rights of the Covenant for the good of the people. This was a continuous process, and efforts were already being made. Experience had shown that steady but genuine steps to the well being of the wider sections of the population were bound to bring tangible improvements in their lives that ultimately helped realisation of economic, social and cultural rights. Nepal continued to require genuine international support and cooperation in order to be able to achieve the rights laid down in the Covenant.
PHILIPPE TEXIER, Chairperson of the Committee, in concluding remarks, said the delegation was to be thanked for its efforts in giving a precise description of the difficulties met by Nepal, and the efforts being made. The suggestion to send information in the next few days on case law was noted, and this was encouraged. The conclusions and recommendations would be drafted during the second week of the Committee, and would be sent on 18 May. The Committee Members thanked the delegation for its efforts and for the constructive dialogue, and were aware of the difficulties experienced by the country.
Posted by Editor on May 5, 2007 1:58 AM