The United Nations human rights office and the national commission on caste-based discrimination in Nepal have urged the Government to fulfil its stated commitment to end all forms of discrimination, saying the problem was widespread and a cause of conflict in the Asian country.
“Deep-rooted discrimination is recognised as one of the root causes of the conflict in Nepal,” said Jyoti Sanghera, the head of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal, in a joint statement with Nepal's National Dalit Commission (NDC), to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is observed today.
At a recent review of human rights in Nepal by the UN Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review process (UPR), the Government reiterated its commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination and agreed to enact into law the Bill on Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability.
“The UPR process provides an important opportunity to the Government of Nepal to advance its commitment to eliminate caste-based discrimination. The Government is urged to swiftly adopt the Bill on Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability in line with the highest international human rights standards,” said Ms. Sanghera.
Discrimination remains widespread in Nepal and has been blamed for the political, social and economic exclusion of millions of Nepalis on the basis of gender, caste, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and religion, according to the OHCHR and NDC, which fights for the rights of people who face discrimination because they are considered members of low castes known as “untouchables or dalits.”
OHCHR and NDC have continued to record cases of physical assault, arson, forced displacement, sexual violence and labour exploitation resulting from caste-based discrimination.
“Caste-based discrimination must be defined as a crime and strong legal provisions be put in place to penalise the perpetrators, bringing an end to impunity for such acts,” said Bijul Bishwakarma, the NDC chair.
“The adoption of the Bill on Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability is paramount in providing the victims with proper and speedy access to justice,” he added.