KATHMANDU: Kabiram Kami of Dailekh Bhagawatimai Rural Municipality-3, Meheltoli has turned 62 years now. But he is still actively fighting against the state’s discrimination and disgrace.
A citizenship certificate, in general, means easy access to the rights of citizens on the state resources but for Kabiram it has been a curse instead. He has been living a life like a hell for the last 33 years ever since he received his citizenship certificate in 1990 from Dailekh.
People become happy when they get a citizenship certificate but Kabiram brought pain and suffering along with the document. He was given ‘dog’ as his name –Kukur Kami by the government authorities in his Citizenship certificate which was later revealed through social media. He was sad not only because he had to face disgrace and discrimination from society but also because his children had to suffer just because of his disgraceful name in his citizenship.
This is not only the problem of Kabiram but a common problem of all the people of the Dalit community. Many people from Dalit communities have been given disgraceful names by the government authorities which are revealed by the media. The government has recently issued a direction to correct them.
With disgraceful names on their citizenship certificates issued by government authorities, a large number of Dalits have been living facing double discrimination–one being Dalit and the other due to the name they are given by the state. Given their new identity created by the state they have not been able to make their presence in the public.
Lawmaker Parbati Bishunkhe said not only the persons who have been given such names but their children have also been bearing the brunt of such inhumane behavior of the government authorities. CPN-UML lawmaker Binda Pandey said a lasting solution should be found to end such discrimination and disgrace to Dalits. They are forced to accept whatever document is given by the so-called upper caste civil servants. Even after the country turned into a federal democratic republic, such problems of having disgraceful names through citizenship certificates have been issued.
Mainstream media and people in social media have been opposing the inhumane acts of civil servants. Member of National Assembly Bhuwan Bahadur Bishwokarma said stern action must be taken against those who issued such citizenship certificates. The state and society-sponsored disgrace and discrimination against a whole community can never be ignored and undermined.
Such a grave crime cannot be excusable just by correcting their names in their citizenship. Even the administrators who were responsible for issuing such citizenship must be brought to the book for action. National Dalit Commission has expressed serious objection over such disgraceful names because that not only seriously affects the person but also their generations. Therefore, Dalit rights activists have demanded that the authorities issuing such citizenship must be punished.
Due to the extreme pressure from different sections of society, the government has issued a notice to correct such names in the citizenship certificates. According to Phanindra Mani Pokharel, spokesperson of the ministry, the Home Ministry has issued a circular to its District Administration Offices to make necessary arrangements to correct such names.
KATHMANDU, AUGUST 8: The Home Ministry has decided to stop issuing citizenship certificates with disgraceful names and correct such names if the concerned citizens asked for it.
The Home Ministry’s statement has come after lawmakers raised the issue that many Dalits were given disgraceful names by civil servants after some media including Kantipur national daily reported the issue with the citizenship certificates.
“Our attention has been drawn by some news reports about the citizenship certificates issue with derogatory names and surnames,” said Phanindra Mani Pokhrel, spokesperson of the Home Ministry issuing a statement on Monday. “We have decided to stop issuing citizenships with derogatory names and correct existing such names if the concerned person wants.”
KATHMANDU, AUGUST 6: Writers and rights activists have raised questions on why Dalit issues have not got proper space in Nepali media.
While speaking at a dialogue with writers on ‘Dalit issues in Nepali media’ organized by Jagaran Media Centre on Friday, most of the writers and activists have said Nepali media have not given proper space for Dalit issues in the last few years.
In the month of Jestha of Nepali calendar 2079 BS, among the total 395 articles published in the opinion pages of the five national dailies 307 were from the Brahmin Chhetri community which accounts for 77. 72 percent while only 11 were from Dalit community which is just 2.78 percent.
Writer and editor Rajendra Maharjan said it’s a very challenging job for Dalits and non-Dalits on caste system and Dalit issues. He said there is a need to do some groundwork to encourage and attract writers and a new generation to write on caste system and Dalit issues.
Presenting his working paper at the function Maharjan stressed that the existing writers could sustain in their profession by polishing their writing skills and providing deep knowledge on their topics.
The state and the market-based media should think of encouraging the journalists, writers, and scholars from the communities having less representation at present.
Speaking at the function Dalit leader and writer Parshuram Ramtel more articles should be published on contemporary Dalit issues. He said such progressive write-ups should interfere and create pressure on society against the existing inhumane discrimination.
Another writer and Dalit leader Ganesh Bishwokarma said there was no encouragement from the intellectual community to write on Dalit issues. He said the issues of the poor and citizens fighting against poverty should get space in the media.
Writer and lecturer of Tribhuvan University Dr. Tara Lal Shrestha said even capable people have to face suppression if they raise the issues of Janatati and Dalits. He said he has been advocating for Dalit liberation and their political and social rights in his articles and books.
While writer Dhan Kumari Sunar said the physical presence of Dalits in media is a must to ensure better coverage. Writer and Human Rights activist Sushil Bishwokarma said there are many agendas in the Dalit community besides caste-based discrimination and untouchability which needs to be explored. He further said writers should study a lot and translate from different languages, which is lacking in Nepal.
Another writer and researcher JB Bishwokarma says there are lots of possibilities if the writers work hard and produce quality articles. “In some cases the articles of non-Dalit writers were more qualitative than that of Dalit writers,” he said. “There is a need for encouragement to the writers who produce quality works.”
Addressing the function chairperson of the Jagaran Media Centre, Kamal Bishwokarma said Dalit issues need prominent space in the media and she requested both the writers from Dalits and non-Dalit communities to raise their voices on Dalit issues strongly.
However, some writers and journalists including Gokarna Bhatta, Shiva Hari Gyawali, Ghambar Nepali, Dinesh Pantha, Arjun Bishworkarma, Santosh Pariyar, and Keshav Bhul said the articles and news on Dalit issues need to be prioritized. They, however, said the Dalit issues could also be disseminated to a broader audience through alternative online news portals and social media even if mainstream media ignored them.
Biru Nepali, KATHMANDU, AUGUST 4: A book that incorporates a dozen of incidents of Dalit human rights violations was released amid a function here in Kathmandu on Thursday.
The book entitled ‘Nyayako pahunchma Dalit?’– Access to Justice for Dalit–edited by Bhim Bahadur BK, Biru Nepali, and Krishna Darnal was jointly launched by chairman of the parliamentary Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee Krishna Bhakta Pokharel and Devraj Bishworkarm, chairman of National Dalit Commission.
The book published by Jagaran Media Centre has incorporated the incidents of human rights violations of Dalit and marginalized communities.
Despite the fact that Nepal’s constitution has guaranteed dignified life for all its citizens as under the fundamental rights section Article 24 has guaranteed rights against caste-based discrimination and Article 40 has provisioned rights for Dalits, many Dalits are killed just because they were born in a Dalit family.
Pokharel admitted that the people of Dalit community are still facing caste-based discrimination just because of the social norms and values. He said such discrimination cannot be wiped out unless they are brought to stern legal action and punishment.
Chairperson of the Directive Principles, Policy and Responsibilities Implementation and Monitoring Committee Nira Devi Jairu said despite being the best constitution in the world Nepal is witnessing an increase in killings due to the caste system because the implementation of laws was very weak.
Chairman of the National Dalit Commission Bishwokarma said everyone should unite against injustice. He also requested all the Dalit and non-Dalit lawmakers to raise their voices in favour of Dalits at the Parliament.
Addressing the function, senior advocate Dinesh Tripathi said the authorities tend to end serious human rights violations through agreement.
Dalit rights activist Ganesh Bishwokarma said the incidents against Dalits were discouraged from registering by the people in the high-level government authorities which is a matter of serious concern.
At the function, senior journalist and litterateur Kedar Sharma called for the need of non-Dalits to raise the issues of Dalit and it is essential for both communities to cooperate to end the ongoing discrimination against a significant chunk of the society.
Chairperson of the Dalit Women’s Association Kala Swornakar said there is a need of pressure from the citizens level to ensure the human rights of all the people.
Writer and researcher JB Bishwokarma said Nepal’s adjudication system and justice administration failed to act responsibly on the incidents of discrimination and atrocities faced by Dalit community.
Chairperson of the Jagaran Media Centre Kamala Bishworkarma said the book has only incorporated one or two reports of all seven provinces of the country just as a representation. She said it is essential for everyone to focus on bringing change in practice instead of preaching about ending the existing discrimination in our society.
New Draft Falls Short of Promised Reforms to Protect Victims’ Rights
KATHMANDU, JULY 25: Four international human rights groups have said Nepali government’s bill to amend its current transitional justice law marks some progress toward accountability but will not fully provide justice to victims or meet Nepal’s obligations under international law in its current form.
According to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, and TRIAL International Nepal’s government and parliament should amend the bill to align with international legal standards.
“Victims and their families who have waited anxiously for amendments to the law, hoping that their demands for truth and justice will be met, are disappointed,” said Mandira Sharma, senior international legal adviser at ICJ. “Despite the promise of reform, this bill, if implemented as it stands today, would shield many perpetrators from being brought to justice.”
Successive Nepali governments have stalled the transitional justice process since 2015, when Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled that the current law fails to meet Nepal’s domestic and international legal obligations on several grounds, including that it empowers the two transitional justice commissions to grant amnesties to perpetrators of serious violations of international law. Although the new bill removes some of the previous amnesty provisions, it would still be difficult or impossible to prosecute those responsible for serious violations of international law including war crimes and crimes against humanity, the groups said.
Several other provisions of the new bill, including those introducing limitations on the right to appeal, would also prevent accountability as required by international legal standards. The major sections of the Bill that violate international law include:
– Section 2(5) categorizes violations to make it possible that perpetrators of gross violations of human rights, crimes against humanity and war crimes, could be granted amnesties;
– Section 29 (5) provides that verdicts of the Special Court which will try transitional justice cases cannot be appealed to the Supreme Court, in violation of international fair trial guarantees;
The bill also contains significant omissions:
– The bill does not establish any special investigation unit in the transitional justice commissions or the prosecutor’s office tasked with evidence collection. Investigation units with expertise in human rights violations would ensure that investigations are prompt, thorough and effective in accordance with international human rights law and standards and that victims can access effective remedies;
– The bill does not clarify the principle of non-retroactivity of criminal law in a manner consistent with international law. This omission makes it unclear how the Penal Code can be used to prosecute conflict era crimes, as stipulated by the bill, and allows the operation of statutory limitations for the crime of rape.
“A credible transitional justice process is essential to ensure the right of access to justice and effective remedies for victims, who have suffered for years while struggling for justice,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Without major revisions, this bill won’t address the legal obstacles that have repeatedly thwarted the transitional justice process in Nepal.”
Victims’ groups and civil society organizations have issued statements calling on the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Federal Parliament to amend the bill, to ensure that it respects international law and the aspirations of victims which were expressed during recent, brief, consultations organized by the government.
“The endless wait by the victims of conflict, and indeed all Nepalis, for truth and justice which political leaders first pledged in the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement is already getting to a critical point,” said Dinushika Dissanayake, deputy South Asia director at Amnesty International. “This bill should be urgently amended to address its serious weaknesses, because in its current form it cannot address Nepal’s long wait for a credible and lawful transitional justice process.”
The bill has some positive aspects, including on the right to reparation and interim relief for victims who were left out earlier, the groups said. It prevents amnesty for certain categories of violations, and promises the establishment of a Special Court to try cases recommended by the transitional justice commissions. It also guarantees the right of the families of “disappeared” persons to their relative’s property. The bill mandates the transitional justice commissions to study root causes as well as the impact of the conflict and recommend institutional reforms.
Nepal has two transitional justice commissions, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), which were set up under the current transitional justice law in 2015. That law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015 for its amnesty provisions not complying with Nepal’s constitution and international obligations of Nepal. The two commissions have received over 60,000 complaints from victims, but have failed to resolve a single case.
For over 15 years the failure to deliver transitional justice has caused deep distress to conflict victims, and continues to undermine human rights and the rule of law in Nepal. All responsible authorities should play constructive roles to amend this bill and ensure victim’s rights to truth, justice and reparation without further delay, the groups said.
Though the current bill shields those allegedly responsible for serious international crimes committed in Nepal from prosecution, judicial authorities in other countries could pursue investigations under the principle of universal jurisdiction in accordance with their national laws, the groups said.
“It is essential that parliament amends the transitional justice bill to conform with Nepal’s own legal standards, as repeatedly articulated by the Supreme Court, as well as international legal obligations,” said Cristina Cariello, head of Nepal programs at TRIAL International. “A sound transitional justice law is needed to prevent judicial authorities from other countries from stepping in, and to reduce the risk that such abuses are ever committed again in Nepal.”
KATHMANDU, JULY 8: Chairman of Indigenous Nationalities Commission Ram Bahadur Thapa Magar honoured two indigenous nationalities journalists including former central committee member of Federation of Nepali Journalist (FNJ) Tika Ram Pradhan at a function held in Kathmandu on Friday.
Pradhan and another indigenous journalist Nilipha Subba were handed over the Federation of Nepali Indigenous Nationalities Journalists (FONIJ) UK award for their contributions to the indigenous people through journalism.
Addressing the function, Chief Guest of the award ceremony organised by the federal committee of FONIJ Thapa Magar said the award would encourage more and more indigenous journalists to write for the cause of the indigenous people of the country. “The two journalists have been continuously writting for the cause of indigenous people and this award would not only encourage them but also the journalists of newer generation,” Thapa Magar said.
Former chair of the FONIJ-UK chapter Biswasdip Tigela briefly explained about the establishment of the award.
“The award was established to encourage Nepali journalists to write in favour of the indigenous nationalities,” Tigela said congratulating the award winners.
The award includes a purse of Rs 25,000 each.
Besides Tigela, Nagendra Nembang-advisor to the FONIJ-UK chapter, Gelje Lama Sherpa-chairman of Federation of Nepali Indigenous Nationalities–an umbrella organisation of indigenous people of the country and Chairman of FONIJ federal committee Gajurdhan Rai also congratulated the journalists on their awards.
The panel formed by FONIJ-UK to choose the winners had selected Pradhan, who is currently affiliated to The Kathmandu Post national daily and Subba, who works for BFBS radio, for the award.
KATHMANDU, JUNE 30: Tamakoshi Rural Municipality has been criticized for discriminating Dalit community through its annual budget in which the authorities have planned a separate mourning place for them.
The budget of the rural municipality which was unveiled last Friday includes a plan to construct a separate mourning place for the Dalit community at Ward 5.
Rs 200,000 has been allocated for the construction of the separate mourning place meant for Dalits only. Dalit activists have taken exception over the rural municipality authorities for encouraging caste-based discrimination instead of their attempts to end such practices. The issue came to fore after the Ward Chairperson Shambhu Phuyal posted the projects allocated for ward 5 in his social media account. “They [Dalits] are restricted at the mourning places of non-Dalits,” said the ward chair Phuyal. “This project was designed citing their problems.”
Many locals including the candidate of the chairperson of the rural municipality Abhisekh Subedi have vehemently criticized the decision of the rural municipality saying that there is a possibility of separate schools, toilets, hospitals, and ways for Dalits. Dilip Sundas, a Dalit activist, said where the rural municipality authorities wanted to lead the society.
Nepal recently concluded its second local election on May 13, 2022, following the adoption of the federal system of governance by the country. The results of polls have also been published. But, the number of Dalit community representatives in the local election has decreased than in the past. Since Dalits are considered as the lowest social strata in the traditional Hindu caste system, also characterized as ‘Untouchable’, while comparing the number of Dalit representatives elected through the elections of 2017 with this year’s, the number of Dalit people elected as the chiefs and mayors is only one percent of the total number of such positions.
Meanwhile, looking at the 2022 local election, no political party fielded candidates from the Dalit community in 124 local bodies. It is observed that only three members of the Dalit community have been represented from 293 metropolitan and sub-metropolitan cities and municipalities. The reason for the decline in the number of Dalit representatives is because the caste system is still prevalent in Nepali society.
Issuing a letter, Pradip Pariyar, executive chairperson of Samata Foundation, has raised concern over the issue. The letter states that in 2017, Dalit participation for the position of Deputy Mayor was low. In 2017, from the Dalit community, 11 members were elected to the post of Deputy Mayor while this year only eight members have been elected which is said to be 2.73 percent of the total number of deputy mayor positions.
In contrast, Pariyar has also mentioned that compared to the previous election, Dalit representatives for the position of the rural municipality chairperson has increased. The number of the rural municipality chairpersons from the Dalit community in the year 2017 was only one and in this year’s election, seven rural municipality chairpersons have been elected from the Dalit community. This is just 1.52 percent of the total 460 rural municipalities.
Similarly, the number of representatives for vice chairperson is also low this year, compared to the number in 2017. There were 16 Dalit people elected in 2017 to the post of vice- chairpersons. Besides, this year, there are only seven members who have been elected to the post of vice-chairpersons of rural municipalities which is just 1.52 percent of the total number. Along with that, out of the total number of 6,743 wards, only 148 wards have Dalit chairs. This is only 2.19 percent of the total number.
However, the number of Dalit ward members has reached 98.01 percent. As the Local Level Election Act, 2017 has made a Dalit woman ward member mandatory for every ward, it is estimated that the number of Dalit women representatives has been growing. In addition, among the 13,486 ward members, 878 Dalit members have been elected which is 6.51 percent of the total number.
It has been mentioned in the preamble and various articles and sub-articles of Nepal’s Constitution 2015 that Nepal will be governed by an inclusive and proportional system. In republic Nepal, the political representation of the Dalit community has been ensured constitutionally and legally based on the principle of proportional representation. But it doesn’t seem that the Dalit community has got their rights based on their population. Pariyar has mentioned that ignoring the politically meaningful participation of Dalit community raises questions over the democratic process and practice and marks the constitutional provision instable. So, he has urged the government that in the upcoming federal and provincial elections, a meaningful participation and inclusion of the Dalit community should be ensured.
Source: Nagariknews network
KATHMANDU, JUNE 4 Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has called everyone to devote themselves to building the nation by ending all forms of discriminations.
The discrimination against the Dalit community must end in practice, Prime Minister Deuba said while addressing a programme organized by the Inter-Party Dalit Women Network, and Dalit Women Centre on the occasion of the 17th National Day of the Elimination of Caste Based Discrimination in the capital on Saturday.
The prime minister said discrimination against Dalits is against social justice.
“Caste-based discrimination is inhuman, immoral and criminal activity,” he said, recalling that issues against caste-based discrimination and untouchability had emerged in Nepal since last seven decades. “It is a shared responsibility of all to make a civilized society by ending all sorts of discrimination and implementing laws effectively.”
Prime Minister Deuba also reminded that Nepal was declared an untouchability-free country and Dalits’ rights were mentioned in the Constitution in the Interim Constitution 2007 while the National Dalit Commission was set up in 2001 with the resolution to end untouchability.
He claimed that the movement launched by the Dalit community helped the government in making relevant policies and laws.
PM Deuba further said caste-based discrimination and untouchability are social blots.
“Every citizen must be ensured equal rights to live a dignified life,” PM Deuba stressed. “Government is committed to ending the situation in which Dalit people have to lose their lives.”
Today, the making of a film ‘Sarbajeet’ based on the life of the trailblazer of the Dalit movement, Bhagat Sarbajeet Bishwokarma, has begun in Kathmandu.
On the occasion, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prem Ale expressed commitment to provide his five months’ remuneration for making the film ‘Sarbajeet’.
KATHMANDU, MAY 28: The government has formed a five-member probe committee to investigate the death of a Dalit youth Sundar Harijan at the prison in Rolpa two weeks ago.
A resident of Gharbaritole of Nepalgunj, Harijan’s body was found suspiciously hanging at the Rolpa district prison on May 16.
After the news was published in Nepal’s largest newspaper Kantipur on Saturday the Home Ministry formed a five-member probe panel led by the director of the Department of Prison Management, Jharendra Prasad Chapagain.
“A five-member probe panel has been formed to investigate the suicide of Sundar Harijan at the prison in Rolpa at 6:30 pm on May 16 to present the report in 10 days,” states a press statement issued by the Home Ministry spokesperson Phanindra Mani Pokhrel.
According to Pokhrel, the Home Ministry will make necessary reforms so that such incidents are not repeated after the panel comes up with its report.