Despite political chaos and widespread dissatisfaction with the draft constitution, voting on the constitution, part by part, is taking place this week. The constitution being put to a vote lacks crucial text on inclusion of Dalits and other marginalized groups that had been previously agreed by both the Constituent Assembly (CA) committees.
The Dalit movement in Nepal has mobilized to protest against this draft constitution and have issued 9 demands to be incorporated into the constitution.
Nine-Point Demand of Dalit Movement
- All Dalit rights and provisions should be included in the new constitution that were accepted and approved by the previous CA and the present CA Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee as well.
- Ensure proportional representation of Dalit at the central, provincial and local level, where the number of Dalit representatives should be maintained at least 3, 5 and 10 percent respectively.
- If the proposed mixed-election system is adopted, then there should be constitutional provisions to conduct election among only Dalit candidates in first-past in post election. And if there are problems to do that, then Dalit candidates should be elected through proportional representation.
- Provision should be made to ensure that the representation of the Dalit in all constitutional bodies and proportional representation in all the structure of the state such as ‘executive’ and at the central, provincial and local level as well.
- Proportional representation should be ensured at all level of the state mechanisms including civil services, police, army, where additional provisions related to compensational representation should also be ensured.
- The word, ‘ by making law,’ mentioned in clauses 1 to 6 of proposed Article 45 of the draft constitution should be removed. Additionally, the provision made by Article 43 related to women’s rights should ensure the equal participation of Dalit women.
- Ensure that Dalit community will have at least one representation from each province in the National Assembly, similarly one representative among the 5 people nominated by the President as per the recommendation of the council of the Ministers.
- The constitution provision should recognize the National Dalit Commission as autonomous and should provide full authorities to investigate the cases of discrimination and to report those who are guilty of discriminatory practices and crimes.
- Include all provisions in the new constitution as per the agreement was made between the government and United Political Dalit struggle committee on May 26th
These demands have been provided to IDSN in English from the Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO), one of the signatories of the document. The original document in Nepali can be downloaded here.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Prakash Man Singh the new constitution will be promulgated after two-thirds of CA-II adopts it. It will not be put to any referendum. Some sources have been reported to say the constitution is set to be adopted on the 20th of September – but this is not confirmed.
There have been several clashes between protesters and police and the Government has mobilized the army to contain protests – thereby further eliminating the political space for dissenting views on the constitution draft.
IDSN strongly urge that the demands of the Dalit movement are incorporated in the constitution text as further marginalizing Dalits will not only be to the detriment of a groups that has suffered widespread human rights abuses for centuries but also to the detriment of building a cohesive Nepal in the future.
Draft constitution leaves Dalits disgruntled (Travel News Nepal)
Police action against Kathmandu protest organised by Dalit lawmakers and rights activists (IDSN news – August 2015)