Nepal fails to meet human rights commitments

London, Feb 2 (IANS) The Nepal government failed to take significant steps towards fulfilling numerous key human rights commitments in 2012, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

In its 665-page World Report 2013, it said that failures in Nepal included a lack of movement on measures to improve the rights of women, children and Tibetan refugees.

A May deadline to draft a new constitution lapsed and since then the country has been left with a caretaker cabinet and without an elected legislature, with only vague promises of fresh elections.

Despite policy initiatives aimed to ensure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as well as an inclusive education system for children with disabilities, government rhetoric for those initiatives exceeded actual implementation.

"2012 was a sorry replay of Nepal's past seven years of impunity and government unwillingness or inability to deliver on its commitments to human rights," said Brad Adams of HRW.

In 2012, the Nepal government again ignored its human rights obligations built into the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord.

At least 13,000 people were killed and over 1,600 became victims of "disappearances" during the decade-long conflict between government forces and Maoists from 1996 to 2006.

Instead of seeking justice for serious abuses, the government has consistently promoted to senior positions officials and military officers linked to serious rights violations, the report said.

In March 2012, the government refused to extend the tenure of the Nepal office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

It also failed to respond to a request by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to place a human rights officer in Kathmandu's UN Development Programme office.

The caretaker cabinet attempted to establish, through an executive ordinance, a Commission of Inquiry on Disappeared Persons, Truth, and Reconciliation with powers to grant amnesty for suspects implicated in war crimes, in violation of international laws.

The ordinance remains stalled in the President's office.

The constituent assembly was dissolved in May after it failed to meet yet another deadline to draft a new constitution.

Promises to hold fresh elections to establish another constituent assembly remained stalled as parties bickered over the formation of a cabinet to lead the country through elections.

The government completed the integration of a total of 1,450 former Maoist combatants into the Nepali Army in October.

In a positive development, the government has made significant progress in ensuring equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people although there are gaps in implementation.

Similarly, despite promoting an inclusive education system for children with disabilities, in practice many schools remain inaccessible and the current curriculum was inadequate for students with different learning needs, HRW said.

In a troubling development, in August the government banned young women under 30 from travelling to Gulf countries for work because of numerous cases of abuse of Nepali domestic workers including unpaid wages, excessive work hours and physical or sexual abuse.

Women continued to face violence in various forms in Nepal; rape, sexual assault and domestic violence remained serious concerns.

The government also increased restrictions on Tibetan refugees, under pressure from the Chinese government.

It continued to deny Tibetans the right to openly celebrate their holidays, including the Tibetan New Year and the Dalai Lama's birthday.

The government also continued to make it difficult for Tibetans to use Nepal as a passageway to India.

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