28th Session of Human Rights Council
03 March 2015
Mr. High Commissioner for Human Rights,
I feel privileged and honoured to address the current session of the Human Rights Council.
Let me begin by congratulating you, Mr. President, on your election to preside over the Council for this year. I assure you of my delegation’s full cooperation in the discharge of your important responsibilities.
The Human Rights Council has been playing a prominent role in addressing human rights issues and situations across the globe through participative and collaborative efforts. Among its various good initiatives, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has been a hallmark of international cooperation in the realm of human rights. The Government of Nepal has been implementing the recommendations and pledges made during its first UPR through an action plan, and in collaboration with various stakeholders.
Nepal firmly upholds that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent, and mutually reinforcing. The interdependence and interrelatedness of human rights, freedom, dignity, peace, security and development call for a holistic approach to address the human rights issues. We underline that the principles of universality, objectivity and non-selectivity must be strictly adhered to by the Council and other United Nations human rights mechanisms. The international community must strive hard to create an environment that fosters free and unhindered enjoyment of all human rights, including the right to development, by all peoples around the world.
In Nepal, we are making all-out efforts to come out of the protracted phase of transition and to institutionalize the democratic gains through the promulgation of a constitution by the Constituent Assembly, and the conclusion of the remaining parts of the peace process. Promulgation of the new constitution at the earliest opportunity in accordance with the mandate of the people to the Constituent Assembly, remains the most important national task before us. We believe that consensus can still be reached on the key issues to be incorporated in the constitution by demonstrating stronger willingness by the political parties to work together in the larger interest of the country, and in respect of people’s verdict. Recognizing the diversity of geography, ethnicity, culture, languages and religions of the country, our efforts are directed towards accommodating the legitimate concerns and aspirations of all segments of the Nepalese society.
We have given top priority to human rights issues. Human rights principles are enshrined as the cornerstone of our Interim Constitution, with clear provisions of respecting, promoting and protecting the rights of all Nepali citizens equitably. Our legislations and policies prohibit all kinds of discrimination including those based on gender, ethnicity, class, caste and religion. The Government of Nepal has been undertaking multi-pronged approach to advance human rights situation in the country. Measures are adopted for protection of the rights and empowerment of disadvantaged and economically weaker segments of the population, including through the provisions of reservation and positive discrimination. In particular, our efforts in guaranteeing the rights of all people including women, madhesis, ethnic communities, dalits, people with disabilities and other minorities are progressive.
The Government is also concerned about the interests and rights of the Nepalese migrant workers. Relevant laws and policies are being implemented to ensure ethical recruitment and well-being of all migrant workers during the entire migration cycle. This issue should receive cooperation and understanding from all stakeholders including the destination countries.
We believe that it is necessary to pursue human rights agenda along with the socio-economic development imperatives of a country. While inclusive development is not possible in the absence of human rights; we must also recognise that socio-economic development contributes towards sustaining and institutionalizing the human rights gains. The focus should, therefore, be on ensuring a life of dignity based on both democratic rights as well as adequate fulfilment of the basic needs.
The Government of Nepal is committed to addressing the gaps of conflict era cases of human rights violations and providing justice to conflict victims. I would like to share with this august House that Nepal has recently established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons to look into the conflict era cases. These Commissions are mandated to establish the truth surrounding such cases, bring the perpetrators to justice, address the needs of the victims, and ultimately pave the way for reconciliation, lasting peace and stability. We believe this is an important step in our efforts to provide justice to the victims as part of our nationally-driven peace process.
We have given due consideration to the spirit of international law, including the growing jurisprudence of the Transitional Justice Mechanism, domestic circumstances and the prevailing ground reality to find a pragmatic solution to the existing problems of transitional justice while crafting the legislation of the aforementioned Commissions. The Government will extend every support to make these commissions fully functional in fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted to them.
As a State party to about two dozen international human rights instruments, including seven core Conventions, our commitment to human rights is total and unflinching. We are also a party to several human rights-related ILO Conventions. In pursuance of our commitment to and respect for human rights, we remain constructively engaged with the United Nations human rights mechanisms and the international community.
We have established various human rights institutions in the country. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), a constitutional body, enjoys full autonomy and independence in its actions in line with the Paris Principles. Similarly, the Government has also supported the evolution and institutionalization of other national human rights institutions, such as the National Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities, National Women’s Commission and National Dalit Commission. The Government is further committed to strengthening the capacity of all national human rights institutions.
Nepal’s judiciary is independent and competent enough to uphold and safeguard, among others, human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens. The Supreme Court, while looking into relevant cases, has passed on important judgements and judicial pronouncements which have added new dimensions to the progressive realization of human rights. The criminal justice system is being strengthened; human rights education has been an integral part of the trainings in the security agencies as well as civilians.
Nepal has a total commitment against impunity. Efforts are underway to address gaps concerning all forms of human rights abuses and other criminal activities. We are equally committed to implement the provisions of the Convention against Torture (CAT) and ensure that torture is not practiced by the law enforcement authorities during the course of investigation. The government has submitted to the Legislature-Parliament a new bill criminalizing torture in line with the CAT. We value the important role of the civil society organizations, human rights defenders and media in creating awareness and education about human rights at the grassroots level. Our endeavours are towards making respect for human rights a part of the national culture.
In conclusion, Mr. President, as we are deeply engaged in institutionalizing democracy through the promulgation of a new constitution, we attach high importance to the human rights issues, especially in helping the people living in all nooks and corners of the country realize their rights and freedoms.
I thank you.