The U.S. Department of State released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on Thursday, March 11th in Washington, DC. The congressionally mandated reports cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Releasing the report in Washington D.C., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Human rights may be timeless, but our efforts to protect them must be grounded in the here and now. New technologies have proven useful both to oppressors and to those who struggle to expose the failures and the cowardice of the oppressors. And global challenges of our time – like food security and climate change; pandemic disease; economic crises; and violent extremism – impact the enjoyment of human rights today, and shape the global political context in which we must advance human rights over the long term.”
Some highlights of the 2009 Report for Nepal are listed below:
– Impunity for human rights violators, threats against the media, arbitrary arrest, and lengthy pretrial detention were serious problems.
– Maoist militias engaged in arbitrary and unlawful use of lethal force and abduction. Violence, extortion, and intimidation continued throughout the year. Numerous armed groups, largely in the Terai region in the lowland area near the Indian border, attacked civilians, government officials, members of particular ethnic groups, each other, or Maoist militias.
– The Maoists returned some previously seized property as the CPA requires but kept other illegally seized lands and properties in their possession; they also seized additional properties. Maoists and Maoist-affiliated organizations continued to commit abuses during the year in contravention of the CPA. Maoists regularly extorted money from businesses, workers, private citizens, and NGOs. When individuals or companies refused or were unable to pay, Maoist recrimination was violent or implied the threat of violence.
– The fate of many of those who disappeared during the 10-year Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) remained unknown. The government did not respond to an OHCHR report on 49 disappeared persons who had been arrested and detained at the Maharajgunj barracks in Kathmandu in 2003 on suspicion of being linked to the Maoists, nor did it respond to the OHCHR′s report on disappearances in the Bardiya district where at least 170 persons disappeared between 2001 and 2004.
– Delays in the administration of justice were a severe problem.
– Violence against women and trafficking in persons, mainly women and girls, continued.
– Armed groups and political parties deliberately targeted media workers and journalists throughout the country. Female journalists came under particular and increasing threat. Several ethnic and political groups in the Terai seized and destroyed newspapers when the papers declined to publish and highlight protester activities, halt distribution of the newspapers during strikes, or prohibit Nepali-language content in newspapers.