Amnesty International put out a statement on Thursday prior to the publication of its annual Human Rights in Asia-Pacific: Review of 2019 citing the erosion of freedoms and impunity in Nepal.
There was little progress on delivering justice and reparations to the victims of crimes committed during the decade-long armed conflict in 2019. The state also failed to address the violations of international laws after committing to do so as part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Amnesty International also expressed concern about arbitrary arrests of journalists and artists under the Electronic Transaction Act 2006, and expressed concern that the proposed Media Council Bill, the Mass Communication Bill, and the Information Technology Bill would further restrict the right to freedom of expression.
“Over the past year, we have seen the country increasingly resort to repressive methods to restrict freedoms. Journalists were arrested simply for doing their jobs, singers were imprisoned solely for the content of their songs, and civil society came under greater pressure,” said Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.
The report cites restrictions on freedom of expression, the need for justice to be delivered to victims of the conflict, and the protection of Nepali migrant workers. It also added that people who lost their homes during the 2015 earthquake were not any closer to finding permanent shelter.
Patnaik said amendments to legislation were also proposed this year that would undermine the independence of the National Human Rights Commission. In addition, proposed new laws by the cabinet would restrict the activities of civil society organisations and subject them to stricter monitoring.
The government also failed to amend the Commission on Investigation of the Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Act 2014 as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2014 and 2015.
“The wounds of Nepal’s decade-long conflict can only heal when justice is delivered to the tens of thousands of victims to whom it is owed. In 2020, the government must build upon the limited but important progress made, empower the two commissions overseeing the transitional justice process, and bring existing legislation into line with the Supreme Court’s orders,” Patnaik said.