United States’ 2022 country reports on human rights practices find faults with Nepal on several fronts

The report mentions Nepal's failure to address transitional justice issues, curb corruption and ensure rights of the Tibetan refugees, among many others.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: The 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices published by the United States Department of State on March 20 have pointed out lapses on the part of Nepal to protect human rights on several fronts, notably on fronts of transitional justice, and the rights of the resident Tibetans in Nepal.

Among other things, the report says that there are cases of unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government, torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment by the government, arbitrary detention, serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence or threats of violence against journalists and unjustified arrests of journalists, restrictions on freedom of movement for refugees, notably resident Tibetans, serious government corruption, lack of investigation of and accountability for human rights abuses and gender-based violence, crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons.

“The government investigated but did not widely hold accountable those officials and security forces accused of committing violations of the law,” says the report.

The report mentions the situation of transitional justice at a considerable length.

The fate of most of those who disappeared during the 1996-2006 civil conflict remained unknown, says the report. “As of November, the government had not prosecuted any Maoists or government officials, sitting or former, for involvement in conflict-era disappearances, nor had it released information on the whereabouts of persons the NHRC identified as having been disappeared by state actors.”

The human rights reports also point to the flawed transitional justice bill the governments have tried to endorse into a law.

“Human rights organizations continued to express concern over flaws in the proposed amendment of the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act,” mentions the report.

The report also faults the government of Nepal for not issuing personal identification documents to the Tibetan refugees. “The government has not issued personal identification documents to Tibetan refugees in more than 25 years, leaving most of this refugee population without the required documents to present at police checkpoints or during police stops. Lack of documentation also inhibited Tibetans’ ability to travel abroad. Some refugees reported being harassed or turned back by police at checkpoints,” the report says.

Besides, it mentions that the government does not recognize as refugees Tibetans who arrived in the country after 1990. “Most Tibetans who arrived since then transited to India, although an unknown number remained in the country. The government has not issued refugee cards to Tibetan refugees since 1995.” The report mentions that most Tibetan refugees who lived in the country, particularly those who arrived after 1990 or turned 16 after 1995, did not have documentation, nor did their locally born children. Even those with acknowledged refugee status had no legal rights beyond the ability to remain in the country. “The children born in the country to Tibetans with legal status often lacked documentation. The government allowed NGOs to provide primary- and secondary-level schooling and other basic services to Tibetans living in the country” says the report, adding that “Tibetan refugees had no entitlement to higher education in public or private institutions, nor were they eligible for professional licensing in fields such as medicine, nursing, and engineering.”

“They were also unable to legally obtain business licenses, driver’s licenses, bank accounts, or own property. Some refugees continued to experience difficulties documenting births, marriages, and deaths. Some in the Tibetan community resorted to bribery to obtain these services.”

[Related: US State Department’s report on terrorism paints bleak picture of Nepal’s security system]