The Government of Nepal has sent a reply to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) claiming that the appointments made to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are constitutional.
The UNHCHR had earlier sent a letter to Nepal Government alleging that it had appointed officials at NHRC in a one-sided manner by violating the criteria of the Constitutional Council and by deceiving the parliament.
The Prime Minister’s Office and the Office of the Council of Ministers wrote to NHRC on Sunday, requesting that its reply be sent to the office of the High Commissioner in Geneva.
Chairman of NHRC Tap Bahadur Magar emailed the government’s four-page reply to the office of the High Commissioner on Monday.
Human rights organizations in Nepal had lodged a complaint with the High Commissioner’s Office alleging that the government had recruited unqualified people with political influence at NHRC, harming the independence of the Human Rights Commission which has the status of a constitutional body.
The High Commissioner’s Office had then asked the government to furnish a clarification in this regard.
The Office of the High Commissioner may reduce NHRC’s status to a second-tier commission if its independence to impartially monitor government work is compromised.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had brought an ordinance related to the Constitutional Council and recommended NHRC officials. As the House of Representatives was dissolved at that time, NHRC officials were appointed by the President without a parliamentary hearing.
If the Parliamentary Hearing Committee does not make any changes to the recommended candidates’ names within 45 days of the recommendation, there is a constitutional provision that the president can appoint the recommended candidates.
Rights activists argue that the provision cannot be implemented when the House of Representatives is dissolved.
The government, on the other hand, has said that the recommendation was made through an ordinance keeping in mind the need to fulfill NHRC’s constitutional obligation of recommending new officials one month before other staffers’ resignation.
The government has also claimed in its reply that all the appointed officials are qualified and capable, and were hired in an impartial manner.