UN rapporteurs urge Nepal to reverse human rights body appointments

United Nations special rapporteurs have urged Nepal government to rectify the appointments in the National Human Rights Commission saying it has shown ‘unwarranted haste’ in ‘avoiding’ crucial processes such as parliamentary hearing, Kathmandu Post reported

Apr 28, 2021
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National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (File)

United Nations special rapporteurs have urged Nepal government to rectify the appointments in the National Human Rights Commission saying it has shown ‘unwarranted haste’ in ‘avoiding’ crucial processes such as parliamentary hearing, Kathmandu Post reported.

Issuing a joint statement, the nine special rapporteurs on the different thematic groups said the recent appointment of the chairperson and the members in the commission is inconsistent with international standards.

On February 3, President Bidya Devi Bhandari administered the oath of office to the chair and the four commissioners of the Human Rights Commission along with 27 other appointees to various constitutional bodies.

House of Representatives Speaker Agni Sapkota and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, the leader of the opposition in the House, had boycotted the meeting that made the recommendations.

The constitutional provision that parliamentary hearings must be conducted for the appointments was not followed as Oli went on to dissolve the House on December 20.

In the absence of hearings, the candidates could be appointed 45 days after their names were recommended to the President.

"We are deeply concerned that the appointment process is not in line with international standards and that it undermines the independence, integrity and legitimacy of the NHRC, " the rapporteurs said. "This will have a chilling effect on civil society actors.”

The statement comes a month after the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions raised similar concerns.

"This appointment process has failed to implement the essential requirements of the Paris Principles, including the need for an open, transparent and participatory process with broad consultations," they said.

Adopted in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, the Paris Principles set six criteria that national human rights institutions need to follow. These include autonomy from the government and the independence guaranteed by the constitution besides adequate competence, pluralism and the availability of resources and powers to carry out investigations.

The rapporteurs said the recent appointments had also failed to adhere to domestic law as enshrined in the Nepal constitution, and noted that “authorities had shown unwarranted haste in avoiding crucial processes such as the parliamentary hearing”.

"We call on the Government to reverse the appointments to the Constitutional bodies and facilitate a new process marked by openness, transparency, broad consultation and participation," they said.

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