A Short Analysis of the Current Draft for the National Dalit Commission Bill

By Tek Tamrakar, Human Rights Lawyer

A draft bill now tabled at the Parliament of Nepal has been produced by the concerned line Ministry for the National Dalit Commission. It’s a good and necessary step forward adding a milestone in the enforcement of the new Constitution that consists of six different commissions as the constitutional bodies to look after the issues of human rights in Nepal. The National Dalit Commission is one of them solely responsible to take care of the issues of Dalit community.

Going through the draft legislation, there some principle issues that we need to be aware so that systematic advocacy can be initiated from the concerned agencies, defenders and activists:

  1. The current draft legislation does not fully comply with the constitutional provisions made for National Dalit Commission (NDC). It’s unacceptable since the laws need to be aligned with the constitution so as to implement the constitutional provisions. The law can’t overlook or overstep provisions enshrined in the constitution. The provisions related to monitoring of the implementation of ratified international human rights and affirmative laws are entirely missing in the draft.
  2. Though the preamble talks about protection and promotion of the rights of Dalit in Nepal, it does not seem reflected while reviewing other provisions of this draft bill. The constitutional protection contain the genuine and clear provisions for investigation, monitoring and more importantly prosecutions against violation of Dalit rights.
  3. Furthermore, neither there is a provision of producing witness nor the collection of the evidence mentioned in the bill for a case of offense. The Commission is also not empowered for search and seizure. Unless this power is given to the Commission, it can’t fulfill the obligations of the protection at all.
  4. The important mandate that national human rights institutions always is entrusted with is about holding the concerned government agencies accountable towards implementation of the recommendations of NDC. However there is no provision of departmental action against those that do not implement the recommendations.
  5. The provision of blacklisting against those who undermine the recommendations of the Commission is a must for the effectiveness of the Commission. However, there is no provision set in the draft bill about it.
  6. The draft bill also lacks the provision that allows the Commission to hold the concerned agencies accountable for the implementation of the laws and other obligations.
  7. Importantly the definition part of the bill does not contain the definition of ‘dalit rights violation’. The abatement of the rights should also be part of it.
  8. Finally the autonomy part of the Commission relies on the resources both financial and human resource. And the bill does not seem positive to ensure functional independence of the Commission. It does neither talk about staffing that can be recruited directly by the Commission nor about the financial autonomy.
  9. If the spirit of the constitution is to ensure the rights of Dalit through providing strong oversights, the above mentioned provisions need to be part of the bill.Finally, let me reinforce that such commissions are established to provide oversight for the effective implementation of the rights of affected communities.  Unless they are independent to perform, the protection and promotion of rights of the vulnerable is not possible. While talking about independence, the Commission requires to have conducive environment to work. The financial and functional part should be should be compatible for an independent Commission for its effectiveness.

 

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