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Nepal government officials to skip UN rights meet

Publication Date : 22-02-2013

 

As Nepal’s human rights record comes under increasing scrutiny from international quarters, senior Nepali government officials, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Chief Secretary Lilamani Poudel and Foreign Secretary Durga Bhattarai, are all set to skip the crucial 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council that will begin in Geneva next week.

DPM Shrestha confirmed that no senior government official will be leading a Nepali delegation to the council due to the changing political scenario in the country.

For the past several years, either the foreign minister or the chief secretary had been leading a Nepali delegation to the human rights meet.

According to officials involved in the human rights sector in the country, this time around, Nepal’s poor human rights record is likely to dominate the meeting as the country has failed to address several outstanding issues and this has led to officials avoiding participation.

After the three senior government officials refused to attend the meet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) instructed its Geneva-based Ambassador Shanker Bairagi and Paris-based Nepali diplomat Ram Babu Dhakal to lead the delegation and defend Nepal’s position.

“There is no difference between sending a foreign secretary or assigning an ambassador to lead the delegation,” DPM Shrestha told the Post.

According to multiple sources, besides the implementation of Nepal’s human rights commitments and compensation to victims, the Nepali delegation will be grilled over issues like the failure to set up a transitional justice mechanism, statelessness, investigations into the murder of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa, growing cases of violence against women and the government’s failure to address the situation.

Some 30,000 documents on serious violations of international law during the 10-year Maoist conflict, released last October by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the arrest of Nepal Army Col Kumar Lama by British authorities, are also likely to feature in the discussions.

Nepal’s failure to field a team of political leaders or high-level bureaucrats in the meeting could mean that the country is not ready when it comes to defending rights issues that will be raised, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

 

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