Rt. Honourable President of Nepal, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, Hon. Chairperson of the National Dalit Commission Bijul Kumar Bishwokarma, distinguished guests, human rights defenders, members of the media, and friends ….
I am honored to have the opportunity to conclude the launch of this important campaign to end discrimination and untouchability in Nepal, and even more so, honoured that the President of Nepal as accorded to this campaign the significance it deserves by inaugurating it himself.
The past few months have seen remarkable progress in Nepal’s national and international commitments to address discrimination. Here today, I would like to recall the recent promulgation of the Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offence and Punishment) Act on 24 May 2011, and the firm commitment given by Nepal, during its participation in its first Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, to end caste-based discrimination and untouchability, and to promote access to justice for victims.
However, and despite existing strong national legal standards and international obligations, the crimes of caste-based discrimination and untouchability are still prevalent in Nepal, particularly in rural parts of the country. The recent case of a father, who was attacked in Dailekh on 30 August 2011 following his son’s marriage with a non Dalit bride and consequently died, is a strong reminder of the existence of this egregious human rights violation in Nepal. The promulgation of the Act by itself is not enough. It also needs to be effectively implemented, and the victims as well as their family members must be able to invoke the rule of law in order to access to justice. A culture of accountability must replace the present culture of impunity in Nepal.
Rt. Honourable President,
Acknowledging the need for a strong commitment to end this deep-rooted form of discrimination from each and every individual and from each and every institution in Nepal, the National Dalit Commission and OHCHR have jointly developed a 100 day campaign with the slogan ‘I commit to end caste discrimination and untouchability’.
Our campaign will raise awareness on the key elements of the new Act across the country, with a particular focus on the remote areas. It will be carried out in collaboration with all organs of the Nepali society – government authorities, NHRIs, HRDs, civil society and the media, in order to foster national ownership. Supporters will be able to access an online, interactive version of the campaign and use other communication tools including the social media.
This campaign will formally end after a 100 days. However, its spirit and soul will live on, and continue to ignite the commitment to end caste discrimination and untouchability, helping thereby to ensure the effective elimination of one of the most degrading forms of human rights violations.
We are confident that along with OHCHR-Nepal and the NDC, all of you will strive towards a common goal – realizing the human rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of society. By working closely together, with all other engaged partners, we have a good chance of turning this goal of ending discrimination and untouchability into a reality in Nepal.
Hon. President, let me express again our sincere thanks to you for providing your valuable support to this campaign.
The Hon Chairperson of the NDC and I would now like to invite you all – our distinguished guests, to join the campaign and commit to end caste discrimination and untouchability, by affixing your thumb print on this canvas.
At the end of the 100 days of the campaign, together we will proudly hand over the canvas to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navy Pillay, as a commitment from Nepal to one of the foremost human rights .