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Nepal: Human Rights

Volume 490: debated on Monday 23 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Nepal. (265462)

While there have been improvements in the human rights situation in Nepal since the end of the conflict in 2006, significant challenges remain to the promotion and protection of human rights caused by the absence of rule of law. Despite the government of Nepal making repeated commitments to promoting respect for human rights, they have made limited progress. It has taken steps towards the proportional inclusion of minorities in all organs and at all levels of the state. It has also increased the budget for the national human rights commission, and has discussed the introduction of a bill to establish a truth and reconciliation commission.

The continuing impunity for past and current human rights abuses remains a key concern. It has encouraged a lack of respect for the law which encourages people to turn to violence to resolving disputes. Poor public security, particularly in the Terai (plains), where there is a proliferation of armed groups, is a major obstacle to improving human rights in Nepal. We are also concerned at the increase in intimidation and violence against journalists which is leading to self-censorship by journalists. Political interference in police investigations is commonplace and we continue to receive reports of torture in police custody.

Our embassy in Kathmandu closely monitors the human rights situation. During the past year we have raised our concerns, including at ministerial level, about attacks on the media, freedom of expression and movement, excessive use of force by the security forces, and the need to discharge minors from the Maoist People’s Liberation Army. We will continue to engage with the government of Nepal both bilaterally and in conjunction with the EU, other international partners, and the Office of the High Commissioner on human rights to urge it to meet the commitments they have made to uphold and promote human rights. Our Embassy is also supporting the efforts of civil society to combat impunity, through advocacy, training and work on legislative reform.