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Nepal's Rights Commission Has Made Great Strides

Nepal's Human Rights Commission Has Made Great Strides, Says UN Official

26 May 2008 - Congratulating Nepal's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on its 8th anniversary, a United Nations official today said that the South Asian body has significant progress in the past year.

"Over a period of little more than 12 months some important steps have been taken to place the Commission on solid footing," Richard Bennett, representing the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, said at an event, attended by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and others, marking the anniversary.

Some of the progress, he said, includes being recognized as a constitutional body in the Interim Constitution; a draft law laying out the NHRC's specific functions and powers under the constitution is being created; new Commissioners have been appointed and have started their jobs; it has regained its 'A' status among its peers at the International Coordinating Committee of the National Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights; and is nearly finished with putting together a new 3-year strategy.

"These developments will assist the Commission in undertaking its formidable tasks as Nepal enters a new phase in its transition towards a society that I hope will embrace human rights as the cornerstone of its new democracy," Mr. Bennett observed.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has assessed that the Government should focus on addressing impunity and discrimination as part of its efforts to consolidate the peace process.

Mr. Bennett said that his Office is prepared to assist the Government in this regard, especially through collaborating with others, including the NHRC.

Nepal, which has emerged from a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives before the Government and Maoist rebels signed a peace accord in 2006, will convene the Constituent Assembly this week.

"I welcome the fact that the NHRC is already planning to make a contribution to the constitution-making process, not only through seeking to ensure that the constitution contains strong and effective human rights provisions but also by helping to make the process as participatory as possible," Mr. Bennett said at the event.

The Commission and OHCHR are in talks over creating a district-level initiative to hold consultations on human rights and the constitution, which is key to protect and promote human rights, he added.

The representative noted that the NHRC faces some issues, and called for bolstered measures to protect women.

"The seemingly current lack of action for domestic violence implies that Nepal may be held accountable for complicity in violence against women," he said.

Last week, OHCHR-Nepal condemned the recent killings and other serious human rights violations following last month's elections in the Asian country.

"OHCHR-Nepal is extremely concerned about recent killings and other serious human rights violations during the fragile period prior to the swearing-in of the Constituent Assembly," the UN office says in a statement.

ENDS

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