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OHCHR report 2013 OHCHR Report 2013
OHCHR Management Plan 2014-2017 OHCHR Management Plan 2014-2017
Brochure: Human Rights in action Human Rights in Action (PDF)
Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society A Handbook for Civil Society (PDF)

OHCHR in Nepal (2008-2009)


Human rights context

 
The mass protests of April 2006 ended the armed conflict, raising hopes for greater respect for human rights, especially after the 21 November 2006 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). However, the conflict and the period of autocratic rule left State institutions weak and subject to political pressure. Entrenched impunity for past and present abuses, inherited from periods prior to the conflict, continues to be the central obstacle to reform of government institutions, particularly local governance bodies, law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system. Particularly destabilizing to the peace process has been the failure to reform the police,which has led to a public security crisis that is central to the deteriorating human rights situation.

The security vacuum has been filled, in part, by the parallel “law enforcement” activities of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN [M]), including its Young Communist League. Their actions have led to increased human rights abuses that undermine public confidence in the Maoists’ commitment to the peace process.

Much of the population remains politically underrepresented and excluded from access to justice and other public services as a consequence of poverty and/or through discrimination by reason of gender, ethnicity, caste or sexual orientation. The failure of the peace process to address these concerns has resulted in numerous protests and strikes, particularly in the Terai region, near the southern border with India. While most demonstrations are peaceful, some have resulted in violent confrontations with the police. OHCHR continues to document repeated use of excessive force by the police, increasing tensions and the likelihood of violent confrontation. In addition, the public security vacuum has resulted in a proliferation of criminal gangs and armed groups in the Terai. These groups are a dangerous and increasingly unpredictable catalyst for extreme violence and criminality.

The postponement of elections for the Constituent Assembly for a second time, in October 2007, is likely to exacerbate these problems. While elections are a key step towards creating a more participatory, inclusive and equal society, there are significant obstacles to overcome before credible elections can be held in a climate free from intimidation and fear. Public security must be improved, including by reforming the police, and long-standing impunity must be tackled.

A United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), with which the Office cooperates closely,was established in January 2007.

Nepal will not be reviewed by the UPR until 2011. However, the country has overdue reports to the Human Rights Committee and CEDAW and should submit reports to the CAT and CERD in the first part of 2008. No visits by special procedures mandate-holders have taken place to Nepal in 2007, and no invitations have been issued yet for 2008.
 

Achievements

 
One of the main impacts of OHCHR’s presence in Nepal was the reduction of conflict-related human rights violations. OHCHR’s visits to army barracks and other places of detention made an impact that was acknowledged by the Nepalese Army itself: By the end of 2005, conflictrelated disappearances by the army had ceased. Periods of unacknowledged detention gradually became shorter and conditions of detention improved in cases where OHCHR had intervened.

It is also widely acknowledged that OHCHR’s monitoring of the April 2006 protests deterred violence by State authorities in repressing the demonstrations. A further deterrent was the announcement by the High Commissioner that she would pass information on individuals or units from the police or Nepalese Army responsible for human rights violations to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to prevent their participation in UN operations.

As the Terai region became a growing priority, OHCHR’s interventions in relation to protests, detention, abductions and abuse of human rights defenders were widely recognized as having a considerable stabilizing effect, although this was mitigated by the failure of the national authorities to take effective action on public security and wider political solutions.

Some of the most important impacts of the Office’s work have been more focus on human rights issues, human rights defenders carrying out their work in greater security, victims coming forward to report violations and abuse, and public dialogue on human rights issues continuing even in the face of repression. OHCHR Nepal also coordinated its work closely with the UN Country Team, and particularly with UNICEF, on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1612 on children and armed conflict

 

Priorities

 
OHCHR Nepal’s plans for 2008-2009 will focus increasingly on building the capacity of national partners and will continue to give attention to issues critical to the peace process,while remaining sufficiently flexible to respond to the uncertain and volatile political climate. Impunity remains the greatest human rights challenge in the country and OHCHR will continue to advocate that perpetrators of human rights violations from both sides to the conflict be held to account, including through prosecutions.

As national capacity is strengthened and national institutions take on a greater role in human rights promotion and protection, and assuming no major further deterioration of the situation, OHCHR will begin in 2008 to progressively reduce its presence in Nepal with a view to creating a sustainable presence comparable to OHCHR’s other major operations.

However, the high levels of tension created by discrimination and marginalization and public insecurity, coupled with public expectations of a proactive, mobile and highly visible OHCHR, mean that field monitoring, protection and prevention activities are likely to remain a priority in, at least, the first part of the biennium. The Office will intensify its engagement and advocacy with the Government to press for the incorporation of provisions protecting human rights into the new Constitution and other relevant legislation. A crucial activity will be analyzing draft legislation and providing recommendations and supporting civil society’s advocacy efforts on these issues. OHCHR will continue to advocate for the elimination of discriminatory legislation and practices, through legal analysis and monitoring and outreach activities.

The Office will increase its efforts to build the capacity of organizations representing marginalized groups and will press for the inclusion of those groups in all aspects of social and political life. Advocacy with and capacity building of law enforcement agencies, justice institutions, and civil administration will also be strengthened in an effort to push for implementation of new and existing legislation. OHCHR will increase its support to civil society and the Government in developing transitional justice mechanisms and will work to strengthen the Nepal Human Rights Commission.

OHCHR will assist the Government in meeting its human rights obligations through greater cooperation with international human rights mechanisms, including treaty bodies and special procedures, and through the ratification of the remaining treaties, specifically the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Contact Information

Headquarters

Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division
Geneva, Switzerland

Asia Pacific Section
Tel. +41 22 928 9650
Geneva, Switzerland
 

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