While welcoming the recent momentum towards finalizing the drafting of a new Constitution, the ICJ said that the Constituent Assembly in Nepal must ensure strong and effective protections for all human rights, consistent with its international human rights obligations.
In addition, they also must ensure that the drafting process is fully inclusive and participatory,
After seven years of political impasse, the devastating earthquake of 25 April 2015 provided Nepali political leaders an opportunity to restore public faith in public authority by reinvigorating the constitutional process.
The country’s four major political parties have now apparently reached agreement on some previously contentious issues and developed a fast-tracked process for the adoption of a new democratic Constitution.
“The horrific earthquake and the government’s response to it has led to a renewed sense of urgency about finalizing and adopting a Constitution that will help create a stable, representative government structure in Nepal consonant with rule of law principles”, Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia director. “The country’s political leaders have a unique responsibility, and opportunity, to adopt a strong, progressive and human rights-compliant constitutional text”.
International law and standards require meaningful public consultation through a transparent and inclusive process. However, the lack of transparency in the current fast-tracked process, combined with the accelerated timeframe, risks undermining people’s ability to participate effectively in the development of the Constitution.
“None of Nepal’s previous Constitutions were the result of meaningful consultation and public participation”, Zarifi said. “The current government must take immediate steps to consult and ensure the participation of all stakeholders, including marginalized groups and minorities”.
The new Constitution must serve to implement the full range of human rights guaranteed under international law. Specifically, while drafting the new constitution, the ICJ urges the Government of Nepal to ensure, among other things, that:
- The new constitution guarantees all of Nepal’s international human rights obligations;
- Permissible limitations on human rights and provisions derogating from rights during emergencies in the new Constitution comply with international human rights laws;
- There is no impunity for gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during the armed conflict, and criminal law is applicable to acts committed at the time;
- The right to effective remedies and reparation for all human rights is recognized;
- Economic, social and cultural rights are recognized as justiciable; and
- Judicial independence is reinforced.
Nikhil Narayan, ICJ Senior Legal Advisor (Kathmandu), t: +977 9851061167; Email: nikhil.narayan(a)icj.org