Ensuring equal access for Dalits to political participation
In order to meet their international obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of Dalits, affected governments should take appropriate measures to:
- Ensure access to citizenship, including through ensuring that Dalits receive citizenship certificates.
- Protect the right to equality and non-discrimination for all persons by requiring formal and substantive equality, prohibiting discrimination on any ground, repudiating “untouchability” and racial discrimination, and providing for “special provisions” to ensure real equality in the enjoyment of all rights, including employment and education.
- Secure the right of Dalits to meaningfully participate in State structures and decision-making, including the drafting of the new constitution and national development activities, on the basis of proportional inclusion.
- Prohibit registration of political parties that exclude Dalits in membership, leadership or nomination for political positions.
- Guarantee fully all freedoms to Dalits, including freedom of religion and the right to marry freely a person of one’s choosing, and ensure that there are no unlawful or undue restrictions on these civil and political rights which prevent their implementation in practice.
- Ensure Dalits’ economic, social and cultural rights, by guaranteeing their justiciability and by specifically ensuring education and cultural rights; the right to a clean environment; the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and free basic health services, along with the underlying determinants of health, such as water and safe and adequate housing; rights regarding employment, labor and social security, that inter alia ensure the right to food, prohibit bonded and forced labor, and guarantee the right to freely choose or accept employment, just and favorable work conditions, and reasonable wages; and the right to property, including through ensuring entitlement to tenure or comparable redress in cases where Dalits’ land tenure has been compromised by previous discrimination.
- Guarantee Dalits’ children’s rights by guaranteeing the right to his or her identity and name, as well as the right to be nurtured, to basic health and social security; prohibiting all exploitation of children, including work or services that endanger their well-being, physical or mental health, or development; and affirming that the best interests of the child is the primary consideration in all actions concerning the rights of children.
- Ensure the rights of Dalit women by prohibiting discrimination and violence against women; requiring all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women; and guaranteeing property rights, reproductive rights and rights concerning family relations.
- Ensure Dalits’ right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading (CID) treatment or punishment by prohibiting all acts of physical and mental torture and CID treatment irrespective of the perpetrator and ensuring that all such acts will be punishable by law and by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.
- Realize constitutional rights and protections by ensuring that Dalits’ rights are implemented and enforced and that law enforcement, the judiciary and government commissions treat untouchability as a serious crime.
The recommendations are contained in RECASTING JUSTICE: SECURING DALIT RIGHTS IN NEPAL’S NEW CONSTITUTION, a Joint Statement by New York University School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ), Dalit NGO Federation (DNF) and the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) issued on 23 February 2009.