A new report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of her office in Nepal contains numerous references to Dalits and caste discrimination.
The Dalits of Nepal continue to face serious discrimination. They are often denied access to justice, resources and employment, and those who oppose discrimination on the basis of their caste not only risk being further ostracised, but are subjected to acts of violence.
In a recently published UN report, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) notes that such examples of caste-related violence include “physical assaults, arson, forced displacement, sexual violence and labour exploitation targeting individuals who have opposed such traditional discriminatory practices.”
The report, which is to be presented at the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council in March, contains numerous references to Dalits and the various forms of caste-based discrimination that they are subjected to. It points to failures in the criminal justice system leading to widespread impunity for people who commit caste-related crimes. It notes that victims of caste-based discrimination are often very poor and face inherent difficulties in gaining access to police authorities.
Some encouraging developments are also mentioned in the report. These include decisions in caste-based discrimination cases by courts in the Far West region of Nepal as well as the development of civil society networks that focus on tackling discriminatory practices.
The High Commissioner’s report contains a number of recommendations to the Government of Nepal, including some that specifically relate to caste discrimination. The Government is encouraged to “strengthen the key provisions of the draft bill on the elimination and punishment of caste-based discrimination and untouchability crimes in line with international standards, and to ensure its prompt passage.”
The High Commissioner also urges the Government of Nepal to strengthen the National Dalit Commission by making it a statutory body and to ensure access to justice and protection for victims of caste discrimination.
Click here to access the report (pages 11-15 and 17 contain many Dalit references)