High Commissioner visits Nepal and India

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay visits Nepal and India from 18 to 24 March. In her first official visit to Asia , the High Commissioner meets with government authorities and representatives of national human rights commissions and civil society of the two countries.

High Commissioner Navi Pillay: Now, with the conflict behind it, Nepal has the real possibility to grasp the historic opportunity to prove itself as a leader in implementing its human rights commitments"The transformation in Nepal is profound; a new government has come to power on the basis of a popular vote and monarchy has been replaced by a republic. However, the challenges to the consolidation of the peace process may be as daunting as those which have been surmounted thus far,” the High Commissioner stated in her latest report to the Human Rights Council on her Office's work in the country.

"Now, with the conflict behind it, Nepal has the real possibility to grasp the historic opportunity to prove itself as a leader in implementing its human rights commitments.

“Above all, the Nepalese people, who have suffered long years of deprivation and denial as a result of the conflict, are entitled to have their human rights respected and fulfilled," she added.

During her five-day visit, from 18 to 22 March, Pillay will see firsthand the activities of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal ( OHCHR-Nepal ), assess the overall human rights situation in the post conflict environment, and discuss with government officials the renewal of OHCHR-Nepal's mandate that expires in June 2009.

The High Commissioner is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, President Ram Baran Yadav, and representatives of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), human rights defenders and the UN Country Team in Nepal .

Discrimination, economic, social and cultural rights, impunity, and the strengthening of the NHRC and civil society are among the key issues the High Commissioner intends to raise during her visit.

"OHCHR-Nepal recognizes that discrimination and violations of economic, social and cultural rights were one of the root causes – and also a consequence – of the conflict. We have assessed that ensuring these rights of poor and marginalized individuals is one of the crucial element of the peace process and we have refocused our programmes in this direction," says Richard Bennett, Representative of OHCHR-Nepal.

" Nepal has made remarkable strides since the beginning of the peace process. However, lack of accountability and a widespread perception that human rights violators are not subject to the rule of law threatens to undermine the many successes of the process so far.

“The successful prosecution of human rights violators, including in the case of Maina Sunuwar, will demonstrate to all Nepalis, and to the world, that the government is fully committed to justice as an integral component of durable peace and stability," he says.

The High Commissioner also visits Janakpur before continuing her trip to India , where she will meet with government authorities, and representatives of the NHRC of India and civil society. Her visit, from 22 to 24 March, serves to develop closer cooperation with India on a wide range of national, regional and global human rights issues.

March 2009