The National Dalit Commission of Nepal (NDC) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) have called for improvements in a draft bill on caste discrimination.
NDC and OHCHR-Nepal have welcomed the drafting of a new ’untouchability’ bill, but also point out a number of shortcomings that have to be addressed to strengthen the current bill. In an analysis released on the occasion of Human Rights Day last week, the two bodies note that ’many areas of the bill require improvements for the law to have the desired impact’.
Among the shortcomings are: a failure to define caste discrimination and ’untouchability’; an inadequate emphasis on the government’s obligations under international human rights law; a lack of classification of offences; a failure to provide guidance to police officers; inadequate provisions for punishments; and a failure to set out positive duties for the government.
The analysis of the draft ’Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability Crime and Elimination Punishment Act’ also notes that this draft has some significant strengths, such as penalising caste discrimination in many areas; criminalising incitement to caste discrimination; and providing increased punishment for public officials found responsible of discrimination.
Nevertheless, NDC and OHCHR-Nepal have included a number of recommendations in their analysis, including a call for a public consultation on the draft bill and a wider consultation with Nepal’s Dalit community. The two bodies also call on the international community to provide assistance in implementing the new legislation.
NDC and OHCHR-Nepal released the analysis together with a joint statement listing their concerns. The statement was mentioned in IDSN’s own statement on the occasion of Human Rights Day on 10 December.
Download the ‘Observations on the Untouchability Bill’