Continuing crisis in Nepal

News and Press Release
Originally published
Nepal's state of emergency was lifted on 29 April 2005. However, the human rights situation in the country has only superficially improved. Some restrictions (applied by both the state and Maoists) on freedom of expression, information, movement and association continue, as do arbitrary arrests and detention.

National and international civil society organisations have strongly questioned the independence, credibility and legitimacy of the Royal Commission for Corruption Control and newly formed National Human Rights Commission. Nepal desperately needs such bodies to be widely respected and effective.

Both armed sides continue to commit grave violations of international humanitarian law with impunity, the most notable recent example being the 6 June bombing of a public bus in Chitwan by Maoists, which claimed at least 38 lives. In addition, anti-Maoist vigilante groups are spreading in various parts of the country. According to The Kathmandu Post (6 April), three cabinet ministers endorsed such a group, which was responsible for burning 306 houses in Kapilvastu on 20 February. A number of these vigilante groups appear to have sinister motives in terms of their violence also being directed at particular 'caste' or ethnic groups.

Rehabilitation of conflict victims, including displaced persons, is highly inadequate. Not only are they more likely to fall into the trap of chronic poverty (if indeed they are not already poor) and endure more violence, the vast majority of them also experience psychological trauma.

The private education sector continues to be heavily disrupted in several districts by Maoist insurgents and their student supporters. There have also been reports that the Royal Nepalese Army has posted soldiers and established camps in schools.

Human security

In short, there have been no tangible improvements in the human security of poor and excluded people in Nepal since 29 April. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to threats, harassment and violence. Unless the violent conflict ends, and a rights-based, democratic governance system exists, Nepal's prospects for meeting the Millennium Development Goals are dire.

Almost 1/3rd of Nepal's 24 million population lives below the poverty line, and the gap between rich and poor has widened in recent years. A nine-year conflict between the government and Maoist rebels has left over 12,000 people dead.

ActionAid International (AAI) has been working in Nepal since 1982 and is currently directly active in 26 districts. The organization works in partnership with poor and excluded people to meet their basic needs and advocate for their rights.

AAI remains concerned about the security of its staff and staff of partner organizations. The organisation continues to work with the Association of INGOs to resist any move by the government or Maoists to force development organizations to be unduly regulated.