Human Rights Watch Criticizes Nepal in World Report 2023

Human Rights Watch Criticizes Nepal in World Report 2023


Aysu Amaha Öztürk

Nepal and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

Human Rights Watch addressed Nepal’s human rights abuses by publishing its World Report 2023 last week (Human Rights Watch, 2023). The report criticized multiple human rights topics that Nepal should be concerned with, namely transitional justice, rule of law, women’s rights, children’s rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. For the length of this entry, women’s rights and rule of law will be focused on.  

Regarding the rule of law, the Nepalese government has been criticized due to the use of force employed during a protest where there were no violent actions from the protestors. During this, an 18-year-old woman died due to the use of tear gas and live ammunition. The government has appointed a committee to investigate her death, however, no follow-up actions have been announced thereafter (Human Rights Watch, 2023). Since Nepal has become a part of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1991, it is obliged to refrain from the use of force during a protest, unless there is a concern “of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others” as given by Article 21 of the ICCPR (Ratification Status for Nepal). Since there was none in this protest, it can be concluded that Nepal has violated Article 21. 

This approach has also translated to Nepal’s behaviour regarding women’s rights. Although statistics show that the number of recorded rapes in Nepal has risen in the last few years, there has been no action to prevent these numbers from rising (Human Rights Watch, 2023). Moreover, Nepal’s rape law was protested in June 2022 due to a limitation that prevented allegations over a year old to be filed to the authorities. The law has been changed to include all allegations up to three years, however, this still discriminates and discourages many other women (Human Rights Watch, 2023). Nepal ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women  (CEDAW), which Nepal has ratified in 1991.Article 2(f) requires state parties to take all appropriate measures, including modifying and abolishing regulations, laws, customs, and practices that discriminate against women (Ratification Status for Nepal). Rape allegations are mostly from women and the laws regarding rape affect women heavily, therefore, Nepal having such laws can constitute a violation of CEDAW. 

Overall, the report showed that Nepal has much to improve on in the aforementioned areas, not only political rights but women’s rights. This is especially important and relevant considering that Nepal is a state party to 7 out of 9 core international human rights instruments (United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies Database, 2023; OHCHR, 2023). Nepal should urgently take action regarding these human rights violations and fulfil what is required of the conventions by state parties. 

Sources and further reading:

Human Rights Watch. Nepal Events of 2022 .

Human Rights Bodies. Ratification Status for Nepal. United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies Database.

The Core International Human Rights Instruments and their monitoring bodies. United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR).