Child Right In Nepal
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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Nepal is an independent and autonomous body established in the year 2000 under the Human Rights Commission Act 1997. The Interim Constitution of Nepal-2007 upgraded the status of the Commission as a constitutional body.
The Article 132(1) of the Constitution has stated that the Commission shall have the duties of ensuring respect protection and promotion of the human rights and their effective implementation. Depending upon the seriousness of the issues, the Commission has been publishing the different reports, from time to time, with objectives of disseminating the information on its activities to the stakeholders and the general public, making public the status of the human rights and drawing the attention the government. In accordance with these objectives, the Commission has published this annual report (January 2008 – December 2008) compiling the report on the monitoring and the investigation of the cases based on complains registered in the Commission, including the status of the Child Rights and their legal aspects.
The report has also included the recommendations of the Commission forwarded to the Government of Nepal and the political parties; the promotional activities and the reformative aspects initiated by the commission. The report is mainly based on complains received by the Commission, the facts collected during monitoring and investigation and the information received from the media, different organization and other sources.
While all the details of the violations of the child rights, excesses and discoursing events were not possible to be incorporated in the report because of the lack of resources and time, the report, nevertheless, has attempted to give the accounts of status of the child rights of 2008.
Child Rights are the rights implemented especially on the children to ensure rights from their prenatal stage to the stage of adolescent. CRC has made provisions that fulfillment of the responsibilities related to the Child Rights lie both on the guardians and the State. Uniformity lacks also in Nepal in defining the child in accordance with the age. CRC has maintained age bar of 18 years as the limit of the age of the child where as the Child related Act, 1992 — the national law of Nepal—has recognized age bar of 16 years as the limit of the age of the child. However, as a signatory to CRC, Nepal is likely to follow the parameters set by CRC. As per the National Census-2001, among the total population of 20 million 31 hundred-thousand, 51 thousand 423, the population of the children in Nepal figures as 39.30 per cent below 14 years, 43.13 per cent below 16 years and 47.5 per cent below 18 years.
Within the span of one year, positive attempts and activities were recorded in the Child Rights sector. The pronouncement of the Supreme Court made on December 20, 2007 regarding the rights of the third gender can be taken as a positive step. According to the report of UNICEF published in 2006, the mortality rate of the children in Nepal has been reduced. The global mortality rate of the children below 5 years of age remains as 26 thousand per day. The report has stated that the mortality rate of the children in Nepal at present is 61 per thousand which is 67 per cent less in comparison to statistical data of last one decade. The Government of Nepal has passed bill on the State Code relating to Abduction (12th amendment)-2006.
The bill has made provision of the imprisonment of 15 years and penalty of sum of Rs 50, 000 to Rs. 2, 00,000/= to those found guilty in the criminal activities of abduction, illegal detention and holding citizens as hostage with intentions of killing, trafficking, forced sexual intercourse, prostitution, torture and extortion. Abductor of children shall be sentenced to the imprisonment of 17 years in jail. Similar punishment shall be awarded to those involved in motivating, passing orders and having agreement with the abductors. Partners of the abductors shall be punished half of the punishment entitled to the abductors. The activities of bringing violence of Child Rights into light, drawing attention of the concerned authorities and bringing the perpetrators into justice can be taken as positive actions. The directives of the Commission towards forbidding any activities that violate the Child Rights; protection of such rights and, recommendations to the government to make publicity of such directives up to the level of the general public can also be quoted as positive steps.
Despites these positive steps, the situation still prevails which negatively affects large number of children towards the Right of the child relating to the Right to Life, Right to Protection, Right to Development and Right to Participation in some way or the other. Large numbers of children are deprived of the Right to Life that includes registration of birth, nutrition, safe housing, healthy environment, safe drinking water, immunization and primary health care. In the districts of Terai region, the absence of the secretaries at VDCs who were not able to attend their offices because of the continued threats from the armed groups has made children deprived of the right to the birth registration. Killing of children and newly born infants; and, the suicides are taking place continuously. Many children are also losing their lives because of superstitions existed in the family and the village.
Although a bill has been passed on the State Code (12th Amendment) related to abduction, its implementation mechanism has not yet been effective. Number of cases of abduction for ransom is on rise. The abduction of 38 children by the criminal groups during period of January to June 2008 by as stated in a report published by CWIN has confirmed the existing situation on the abduction of children. Only few among the abducted or missing children are traced back. According a study jointly conducted by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social welfare and Children Tracing Coordination committee established under the Central Children Welfare Committee has stated that 2458 i.e. 59.98 per cent among the missing children could not be traced back whereas 1640 were not found.
Despite the formulation and implementation of Child Act 1992, Labor Act 1992 and Child Labor Act (Prohibited and regulated) 1999, news has items are being flashed in media, from time to time, about the involvement of the government officials defying the law. According to the National Census 2001, among the children working as domestic
help, 46.3 per cent were found to be boys and 53.7 per cent girls. According to a survey conducted by ILO, among the 2.6 million child laborers, 127 thousand children are found to be involved in vulnerable occupation. The children in the urban area are engaged in the vehicles used in the transport system considered as highly vulnerable. There are cases of the children being victims of the domestic violence. They are also made victims of socio-economic problems like displacement, hunger, food, shelter, medical treatment; customs of confinement during menstruation, kamlari (enslavement of girl child from Tharu community, haliya (a form of bonded labor engaged in ploughing) and caste discrimination.
The armed conflict has also affected a large number of children. The negative effect on the various rights of children caused by death, injury, disability, abduction, unlawful detention, abuses, and induction as child soldiers, displacement, death, abduction and disappearance of the family or the head of the family has not been completely minimized. The statistical data made public by the United Nation Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has mentioned that there were 2973 child soldiers in different cantonment of the CPN (Maoist). The statement issued on August 21, 2008 by the Commission has mentioned that there were 200 infants of the people’s army in the cantonment of Dashrathpur in Surkhet district.
The number of girl child indulged in the prostitution is increasing every year. A report of ILO has mentioned that there were more than 5000 girls under 16 years of age found to be involved in the prostitution. CWIN has stated that there were 28 cases of sexual exploitation, 188 cases of rape and 330 cases of the corporal punishment in the school. Likewise, INSEC in its report on the status of human rights in 2008 has stated that 186 girls under 18 years of age were raped. These are only few cases that have been made public.
Many of the child protection homes have not been able to fulfill minimum basic standards although there are various child protection homes in the child rights sectors; and these homes are focused only in the urban areas. The Central Child Welfare Committee has stated that among the 454 child homes operated in 37 districts, only 321 homes are being operated fulfilling legal parameters; and among 11,969 children staying at these homes , most of the children are sheltered at the such homes in the Kathmandu valley. Although provisions are made to have child bench comprising of a district judge and a child psychoanalyst in order to strengthen juvenile justice, the status of implementation aspects are very poor. Many children are forced to take shelter in the jail along with their guardians who were serving terms.
Children are also found to be deprived of the right to development. They are deprived of the necessary facilities and opportunities to have physical, mental, moral and social development required for the appropriate standard of living. This period was not found to be encouraging in the educational sector as well. Schools were used by all the teachers’ organizations, students’ organizations and the political parties in order to fulfill their own vested demands. The academic activities including SLC examinations were disrupted by the waves of bandhas, strikes and agitations in the Terai belt and the district of the eastern hills. Right to education was violated during the Constituent Assembly
Election by using the schools as polling stations. During the Constituent Assembly Election, students were mobilized in the campaign, cultural shows and rallies. According to the media coverage, children also were given opportunities to cast votes in the ballot boxes.
The government has been distributing Vitamin A to the children and also conducting campaign to immunize the children. It is estimated that there are 70, 256 children in Nepal infected by HIV. There are more HIV infected children in the districts of Surkhet, Dailekh, Achham and Dang in comparison to other districts. The provisions made in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2007 regarding the children have not been implemented as per the expectation. Many children have lost their lives and many are forced to live disabled life because of failure to destroy the unclaimed bombs and explosive mines used during the conflict and also due to the failure to demarcate the areas having such explosive.
During the period covered by the report, altogether 84 numbers of complains were registered in the Commission. Most of the complains are concerning to the child soldiers in the CPN (Maoist) cantonment, abuse by the teachers, engaging children as domestic servants and mistreatment to them, killing during the conflict period by the security personnel, police and CPN (Maoist), keeping the children in the jails instead of giving them accommodation in the Child Reform Homes, torture by the police, adoption of girls and sending them abroad without the consent of the guardians. The Commission has given special emphasis on the complaints and monitoring on the child rights during the election of the Constituent Assembly Election.
The Commission has forwarded 13 recommendations to the government after completing 19 investigations based on the monitoring conducted in the 69 districts during the Constituent Assembly Election. Issues related to the rehabilitation, reintegration, and social reunification including arrangement to their education, training, employment of the child soldiers staying at the cantonments were addressed in the recommendations. Depending upon the seriousness of the issues, the Commission has been issuing the press statements on child right from time to time.
The Commission has been continuously focusing on the promotional activities along with the protection of the child rights. It is also engaged in organizing public hearing, experiences sharing, training, symposiums, interactions etc. Likewise, the Commission is working also on the law reviews. To disseminate information on the status of the recommendations and their implementations, the Commission has published “Status of the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission, Suggestions of the UN Committee on Child Rights and the Pronouncements of the Supreme Court and their Implementation: A Study Report 2008”. The Commission has forwarded its opinions and suggestion on Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, 2000 which are to be submitted The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by the government.
The Commission has given continuity in the joint action with the government, state agencies or authorities and various NGOs working in the Child rights sector , civil society, children clubs, schools and teachers for the protection and promotion of the
Child Rights. The Commission has been strengthening its relations with the various govenment agencies, INGOs and NGOs. Such activities of the Commission have proven to be fruitful in the Child Rights Sector. Presentation of the status of the Child Rights, drawing attention of the government, alertness for the future, enhancing awareness among the the stakeholders are some of the achievement oriented activities of the Commission. Nevertheless, non-compliance of the recommendations of the Commission, impunity etc are the some of the challenges for the Commission. The Commission requires to focus attentions towards the challenges. Save the Children Noarway has allocated budget of a sum of Rs. 2.594 million to the Commission for undertaking protection and promotional activities, monitoring, investigation, interactions, symposiums, publication of the reports and remuneration to the consultants. Out of the allocated budget, works valued for Rs 21, 65, 733 have already been carried out so far.