Empowerment of marginalised communities is Nepal’s key objective, Ambassador Bairagi tells UN Human Rights Council
22 March 2012 - Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations and Other International Organizations Shanker D. Bairagi has stated that Nepal has adopted a rights-based approach to the development of all sectors, adding discrimination in any form against any citizen or community on any ground, including gender or caste, is strictly prohibited.
“Empowerment and mainstreaming of marginalised and vulnerable communities have been the key objective of Nepal’s national development process. Their proportional representation in political, administrative and other state mechanisms through inclusive measures has been ensured,” he said while addressing the Human Rights Council’s ongoing 19th session in Geneva on Wednesday.
He was participating in the session as a country concerned in the general debate on the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation and the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner, including technical cooperation, in Nepal.
Prior to the general debate, the High Commissioner’s separate reports on six countries including Nepal were presented to the Council by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang.
Addressing the Council Ambassador Bairagi highlighted the significant achievements made in the areas of human rights in Nepal, in particular following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006. While reiterating the unflinching commitment of the Government of Nepal to the promotion and protection of human rights, he called for higher level of understanding and support of the international community to the institutionalization of peace and democracy in Nepal.
Informing the Council about the peace process and the Constitution writing in Nepal, he said that they have gained momentum recently following the signing of the seven-point agreement among the Nepalese political parties on November 1, 2011. The discharge process of Maoist combatants opting for voluntary retirement has already been completed and the process of the integration of the agreed number of combatants into Nepal Army is being mainly finalized and hopefully some issues which are under discussion will be decided soon, he said.
He further informed that most of the issues to be incorporated in the new Constitution have been agreed upon and dialogue is ongoing to address remaining outstanding issues.
On the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Nepal, he stated that the Government of Nepal remains committed to the implementation of the recommendations as well as the voluntary pledges and commitments that were made during its UPR last year. He also informed about the adoption of an action plan in Nepal for the implementation of UPR recommendations.
Reiterating the Government’s commitment to ensure gender equality, he stated that the perpetrators of gender-based violence are not immune from punishment. He further said that the Caste-Based Discrimination and Untouchability (Crime and Punishment) Act has already come into force, which completely prohibits caste-based discrimination and untouchability practices.
With regard to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) he stated that it enjoys independence as well as functional and financial autonomy. The recently promulgated NHRC Act, 2012, further enhances its standing by conforming to the Paris Principles.
Informing that a recent resolution of the Government seeks to make efficient the procedures for the implementation of the recommendations of the NHRC, he said that Government is committed to strengthening capacity of all national human rights institutions.
While stating that the Government has been implementing a Special Security Plan, 2009, which has improved the law and order and security situation, Ambassador Bairagi said that the security agencies are active in ensuring security of all citizens, including rights defenders, journalists and women rights activists.
On the right to press and publication, he said that it has constitutionally been guaranteed as a fundamental right. Any form of censorship is forbidden and infringement of this right can be remedied by the Supreme Court, he said.
Concerning the refugees, he said that Nepal has generously provided shelter to a large number of refugees on humanitarian ground despite not being a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. He further said that the Government fully respects the rights of refugees as long as their activities do not go in contravention to the domestic law and the vital national interest of Nepal. Reiterating the longstanding policy of the Government of Nepal not to allow the use of its territory for hostile actions against its neighbours or any other country, he expressed hope that all concerned would honour and respect Nepal’s sensitivities, and constitutional and legal provisions.
While stating that Nepal attaches importance to the transitional justice mechanism, he said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Disappearance would be established through political consensus. The objective of such mechanism is to ensure justice to the victims and reconciliation in the society. A separate bill on witness protection is also being formulated, he added.
Bairagi further stated that acting within the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Accord, 2006, and the laws in force, withdrawal of cases in exceptional circumstances has been made with the consent of the court. Any measures relating to the withdrawal of cases and pardons, if any, may be reviewed by the Supreme Court of Nepal, he said.
Appreciating the role played by OHCHR-Nepal in monitoring the human rights situation in Nepal during a difficult period of time in the country’s history and in providing support and technical assistance to the national human rights institutions, he stated that we are currently focusing on building and strengthening the capacity of the national human rights institutions.