Sunday, December 10, 2006

Int'l Human Rights Day being observed

The 58th International Human Rights Day is being observed across the country with the theme "poverty" amidst various programmes, today.

In his message on the day, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has assured that with the county entering into a new phase, Nepalis will not have to live under the dark clouds of fear and terror anymore.

“Democratic system is the basis of human rights protection,” Prime Minister Koirala said, adding, “We are now on the way towards consolidating democratic system to ensure human rights.”

Stating that Nepal was among one of the countries with most cases of human rights violation, Prime Minister Koirala said, “Now nobody will be compelled to live under the dark clouds of fear and terror.”

Koirala also appealed all sections of the society to express their commitment towards getting rid of all forms of discrimination against people and suppression thus creating a free society that defends and respects human rights and to respect and abide by the norms and values of human rights.

However, the government is yet to fill the vacant posts of commissioners of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), national rights watchdog. The posts of commissioners remained vacant, after all commissioners resigned from their posts following the success of the April movement of the country.

Various national and international rights watchdog and development partners have been asking the government to make appointments at the vacant posts in transparent way.

Meanwhile, in her speech, Chief of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal Lena Sundh said, impunity, lawlessness and social discrimination must end as the Nepal moves towards peace after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government and the Maoists.

Sundh said, firstly, impunity must be ended, especially for serious human rights abuses, adding, "Those who hold positions of power and public responsibility must be accountable to the public, not least State security forces."

Second, there must be a well functioning law enforcement and criminal justice system. Nepal Police must be redeployed to posts in communities across the country, and carry out their duties in a professional and effective manner in order to re-establish the rule of law, the Nepal Chief of the UN rights body said.

"Third, it is essential to address longstanding discrimination against and social exclusion of Nepalis such as Dalits, indigenous peoples, communities such as Badis, groups such as ex-Kamaiyas, people with disabilities and sexual minorities," she added.

Sundh further said that OHCHR-Nepal would now focus on three issues – end to impunity, well-functioning law enforcement with criminal justice system and end to social discrimination – during the transitional phase, apart from monitoring the human rights situation.

"OHCHR-Nepal will work with the incoming Government, and civil society organisations representing marginalised communities in Nepal, to advise and assist in the development of measures that can begin to eliminate discrimination in Nepal and so contribute to eradicating the causes of poverty," she further said.

Mainwhile Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) of the Nepal Army Rukmangat Katuwal on Sunday said that the Nepal Army is committed towards safeguarding the principles of human rights and democracy.

Speaking at a programme organized at the army headquarters on the occasion of International Human Rights day, Katuwal said that the Nepal Army has made strong commitments regarding worldwide human rights principles in Nepal's changed political context.

The CoAS also stated that the incidences human rights violations and excesses that went on during the conflict-period would not be repeated in the future.

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