Thursday, February 11, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Plug holes in statute: Report

Plug holes in statute: Report

At a time when ethnic and linguistic factors seem to dominate the
constitution-making process, a research report by an organisation
under the New York University School of Law says that the Constituent
Assembly (CA) must address what it calls some 'critical' gaps in the
draft concepts of the new constitution.

Released on Tuesday, the report titled "Rights Within Reach: Securing
Equality and Human Rights in Nepal's New Constitution" cautions that
the draft proposals, including the one on fundamental rights, lack a
number of crucial provisions which, otherwise, could have helped Nepal
end the longstanding caste-based discrimination and ensure human

In connection with the recent proposal of the 14-state federal
structure developed on the basis of ethnic, linguistic and regional
factors, the report questions whether such a model could address the
rights of the marginalised groups such as the Dalits, which are not
confined to a particular geographic area, nor they belong to a certain
ethnic or linguistic group. Dalits, who make up around 13 percent of
the country's population, have been opposing the idea of dividing the
country on ethnic and linguistic lines.

"Regardless of which state structure is ultimately adopted, all levels
of the government--national, regional and local--must respect, protect
and fulfill Nepal's human rights obligations," states the report of
the University's Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ).

"This principle is of particular relevance to Nepal's Dalit
population, which is neither confined to a particular geographic area
nor to an ethnic or linguistic group."

The centre calls on the Constitutional Committee to consult the Dalits
and other marginalised groups regarding this issue.

"The CA must seize this historic opportunity of constitution-drafting
to dismantle Nepal's caste system and ensure human rights for all
Nepalis," said CHRGJ Faculty Director Smita Narula.


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