Caste Discrimination and Transitional Justice in Nepal

The launch of “Recasting Justice” in Kathmandu, Nepal, 2008.

CHRGJ and IHRC have been pioneers in drawing attention to the disproportionate impact of Nepal’s decade-long conflict on Dalits (so-called untouchables) in Nepal and to human rights abuses committed by both Maoist insurgents and Nepalese security forces. As the country transitions to a constitutional democracy, the Center has also led the way in highlighting Nepal’s international human rights obligations to forge a constitution that secures equality and human rights for all Nepalis.

Our findings have informed the work of Nepalese lawmakers and of the former U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the U.N. Committee against Torture, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, and the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights.

Cover image of “The Missing Piece of the Puzzle”

The IHRC has worked closely with Dalit groups and activists to advocate with Nepal’s lawmakers to ensure that Nepal’s new constitution complies with Nepal’s international human rights law obligations and that the new constitution meaningfully protects and advances the rights and equality of Dalits.  Our targeted interventions in Nepal’s constitution-drafting and transitional justice processes are anchored in advice from and consultation with grassroots organizations in Nepal on the most effective ways we can support their efforts to ensure dignity and equality for all.

In May 2011, we analyzed the human rights implications of Nepal’s first census exercise since the country’s transition to a constitutional democracy. Shared with our partner organizations in Nepal, our analysis underlined the essential nature of collecting accurate census data so that Nepal may fulfill its human rights obligations to work toward an equal society for all of Nepal’s Dalit and other marginalized populations. We also highlighted the importance of the census being undertaken in a nondiscriminatory manner.

In December 2010, we issued a public statement to members of the Constitutional Committee of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly (CA), and to a high-level task force of CA Members charged with resolving various constitutional disputes. Issued jointly with our partners in Nepal, our statement called on the CA to draft in a timely manner a Constitution that fulfills Nepal’s human rights obligations. More specifically, the statement underlined the need for special measures to ensure substantive equality for marginalized communities and effective remedies for those who suffer human rights violations.

In March 2010, Clinic students travelled to Nepal with CHRGJ staff to promote the recommendations from our report, “Rights Within Reach: Securing Equality and Human Rights in Nepal’s New Constitution.” The team met with high-profile Nepalese lawmakers and local and international human rights advocates and activists. The report was very well received and the team solicited detailed feedback from the various constituencies in order to help us maximize the report’s short and long term impact.  The report’s recommendations drew on our earlier findings, as reflected in the report “Recasting Justice: Securing Dalit Rights in Nepal’s New Constitution,” which we released in Kathmandu in 2008.

Relevant Documents