Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Amnesty International Report 2010 (Nepal)

Nepali human rights defenders reported hundreds of killings and abductions by state forces and armed groups. Public insecurity escalated as a growing number of armed groups took violent action against civilians. The police used unnecessary and excessive force to dispel political and rights-based demonstrations. Torture of detainees was widely reported.


Commitments made in Nepal's 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord to uphold civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights remained unfulfilled. Political division and proliferation of armed groups threatened the peace process. The ruling Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) government, headed by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, fell in May and was replaced by a coalition government led by Madhav Kumar Nepal. Maoist party supporters staged protests and general strikes, including a blockade of parliament. Efforts to draft a new constitution made little progress. Despite the state's declared support for the UN Draft Principles on eliminating discrimination based on work or descent (which addresses caste inequalities), discrimination against Dalits and women persisted with impunity.

Transitional justice

Efforts to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) stalled. Nepali critics of a draft TRC bill, pending since 2007, noted shortcomings, among them the proposed commission's lack of independence from political influence, inadequate witness protection, and a proposal to grant it the power to recommend amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights violations.

Enforced disappearances

Both sides of the conflict that ended in 2006 subjected people to enforced disappearances. According to the ICRC, more than 1,300 people remained unaccounted for by year's end. A draft bill criminalizing enforced disappearance lapsed in June, and a Commission of Inquiry into disappearances was not set up. The proposed bill failed both to employ a definition of enforced disappearance consistent with international law, and to recognize enforced disappearance as a possible crime against humanity. On 30 August, Amnesty International issued a joint memorandum with eight prominent Nepali and international organizations calling for improvements to bring the draft in line with international standards.


Impunity continued for perpetrators of human rights abuses during the conflict no cases were tried before a civilian court. Survivors of violations reported that police refused to file complaints or investigate cases. The authorities failed to implement court-ordered arrests of military personnel accused of human rights violations.

  • In December, the government promoted a high ranking army officer implicated in human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, during the conflict. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed particular concern about this, and opposed his promotion pending investigation.

Police abuse

Police continued to employ unnecessary and excessive force to quell demonstrations, including beating protesters with lathis (long wooden sticks) and gun butts. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, and killings of people suspected of being affiliated with armed groups in faked "encounters", were reported.

Abuses by armed groups

Over 100 armed groups operated in Nepal's Terai region and committed human rights abuses, including abductions of members of the Pahadi (hill) community and bomb attacks on public places.

  • On 9 April, police shot and killed Parasuram Kori, after members of the leftist Terai-based armed group Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM-J) fired at a police patrol team. The victim's mother said that her son and two others had been abducted by the JTMM-J three days earlier.

The Young Communist League, the youth wing of the CPN-M, were also responsible for killings, assaults and abductions.

Child soldiers

Over 2,500 former child soldiers remained in cantonments (military areas where, under the Comprehensive Peace Accord, the CPN-M had agreed to be quartered). In July, the government announced plans to discharge them and more than 1,000 "illegal recruits" inducted after 2006, a process that was to finish by November. But the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a discharge and rehabilitation plan, which remained stalled as of mid-October. Releases had not commenced by the end of the year, but were announced for early January 2010.

Torture and other ill-treatment

National laws providing safeguards against torture fell short of international standards, and remained inadequately implemented.

  • In July, police tortured Bhakta Rai and Sushan Limbu after the latter was arrested on a minor charge in Urlabari, south-eastern Nepal. Police beat them in a jail cell, then stripped them to their underwear in the street, assaulted them with iron rods and forced them to crawl on their knees and elbows over stony ground. Both sustained serious injuries. Following a successful court petition, the men were granted access to lawyers and provided with medical care, but officers involved in their torture were not suspended, and no investigation was launched.

Violence against women and girls

Women human rights defenders were threatened, assaulted and killed. Dowry deaths and sexual violence continued. Legislative weakness and inadequate policing obstructed prosecution of domestic and sexual violence cases. Police refused to record cases of violence against women, or to provide information to women human rights defenders on the status of investigations.

  • Uma Singh, a journalist for Radio Today FM and member of the Women's Human Rights Defender Network, was attacked on 11 January by a group of armed men. She was severely mutilated and died on her way to hospital in Kathmandu.

In August, Amnesty International launched an action demanding that the Prime Minister ensure accountability in the case of Maina Sunuwar, a 15-year-old girl who was tortured to death by members of the Nepal Army in February 2004. In December, one of the accused, Major Niranjan Basnet, was expelled from a UN peacekeeping mission and repatriated to Nepal. Amnesty International called on the Nepal army to hand him over to civilian authorities.

Legal and institutional developments

The government stalled ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court despite a commitment from Nepal's then Minister of Foreign Affairs. In July, Amnesty International submitted more than 13,000 appeal letters to the new Minister of Foreign Affairs Sujata Koirala, calling for the government to proceed with ratification. The Minister agreed to begin the process, but by year's end no progress had been made.

(As of 28th May 2010)

Economic Freedom Report of Nepal - 2010

Nepal’s economic freedom score is 52.7, making its economy the 130th freest in the 2010 Index. Its score is 0.5 point lower than last year, reflecting declines in five of the 10 economic freedoms. Nepal is ranked 28th out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its score is below the world and regional averages.
Nepal’s economy is characterized by a combination of rapid population growth and inadequate economic growth that has led to widespread, chronic poverty. Overall, weak reform efforts have failed to stimulate broad-based economic growth. The state continues to hamper private-sector development, and political instability weakens the country’s ability to implement economic reform or create a stable environment for development.
Although reforms in Nepal’s trade regime are slowly having an effect, the average tariff rate remains high. Foreign investments must be approved or face licensing requirements. A lack of transparency, corruption, and a burdensome approval process impede much-needed private investment growth. Property rights are undermined by the inefficient judicial system, which is subject to substantial corruption and political influence.
Background: The fall of the nine-month-old Maoist government in May 2009 has led to political uncertainty in Nepal. Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal resigned from the premiership following a dispute with Nepal’s president over leadership of the army and the fate of some 20,000 Maoist fighters. A 22-party coalition led by Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) leader Madhav Kumar Nepal took power following the fall of the Maoist government but faces continual protests and weakening law and order. The Maoists, who fought a 10-year insurgency that left over 13,000 dead, signed a peace accord in 2006 that allowed for elections that they won in 2008. Economic development has largely stalled. Nepal attracts very little foreign direct investment, and its main industries are agriculture and services.
The overall freedom to start, operate, and close a business is limited under Nepal’s regulatory environment. Starting a business takes an average of 31 days, compared to the world average of 35 days. Obtaining a business license takes almost twice the world average of 218 days. Bankruptcy proceedings are lengthy and complex.
Nepal’s weighted average tariff rate was 13.1 percent in 2007. The government continues to implement reforms, but import bans, services market access barriers, import taxes, import and export licensing, non-transparent regulations, weak enforcement of intellectual property rights, inadequate infrastructure and trade capacity, and customs corruption add to the cost of trade. Fifteen points were deducted from Nepal’s trade freedom score to account for non-tariff barriers.
Nepal has moderate tax rates. Both the top income tax rate and the top corporate tax rate are 25 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) and a property tax. In the most recent year, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 9.6 percent.
Total government expenditures, including consumption and transfer payments, are low. In the most recent year, government spending equaled 16.0 percent of GDP. The state oil company is a drain on the economy.
Inflation has been moderately high, averaging 7.4 percent between 2006 and 2008. Although most price controls have been eliminated, the government regulates the prices of petroleum products and telecommunications services and subsidizes companies in strategic sectors. Five points were deducted from Nepal’s monetary freedom score to account for policies that distort domestic prices.
Nepal is generally open to investment in many sectors, but investments must be approved, and many face licensing requirements. Bureaucracy and regulatory administration
are burdensome, non-transparent, inconsistently implemented, and inefficient. Political instability, pervasive corruption, and inadequate infrastructure and administrative capacity also inhibit investment. Residents may hold foreign exchange accounts in specific instances; most non-residents also may hold such accounts. Convertibility is difficult and not guaranteed. Most payments and transfers are subject to prior approval by the government. There are restrictions on most capital transactions, and all real estate 100 transactions are subject to controls. Foreign investors may most free acquire real estate only for business use.
Nepal’s fragmented financial system is heavily influenced by the government. Financial supervision is insufficient, and anti-fraud efforts are lacking. Regulations are not transparent and fall short of international standards. The banking sector dominates the financial sector, and there are approximately 20 commercial banks operating in the country. The number of other financial intermediaries has increased in recent years, but the high cost of credit and limited access to financing still deter entrepreneurial activity. Nepal’s government-owned banks represent more than 30 percent of total banking assets and account for more than half of total bank branches. The central bank has gradually phased out “priority sector” financing activities whereby banks must lend a certain amount to government-designated projects.
Nepal’s judicial system suffers from corruption and inefficiency. Lower-level courts are vulnerable to political pressure, and bribery of judges and court staff is endemic. Weak protection of intellectual property rights has led to substantial levels of optical media copyright piracy.
Corruption is perceived as widespread. Nepal ranks 121st out of 179 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2008. Foreign investors have identified corruption as an obstacle to maintaining and expanding direct investment, and there are frequent allegations of official corruption in the distribution of permits and approvals, the procurement of goods and services, and the awarding of contracts. The governmental Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority, mandated to investigate official acts of corruption, claimed a 75 per-cent success rate concerning corruption cases it filed, but some cases involving politicians were not filed or were defeated in court.
Nepal’s labor regulations are restrictive. The non-salary cost of employing a worker is low, but laying off an employee is difficult.

Average Per Capita Income of the freest countries is $ 24,402 whereas average per capita income of least free countries is $ 2,998. Life expectancy of most free countries is 77.8 years whereas that of least free countries is 55 years.
Note the fact that some countries among the freest one are devoid of any natural resources, like Hong Kong and Singapore whereas most of the countries among the least free ones are considered to be very rich in natural resources, like Nepal, Congo, Venezuela.
Economic Freedom Index is calculated by two institutes separately. Fraser Institute of Canada and Heritage Foundation of USA. Following is the section about Nepal in Heritage Foundation's Economic Freedom Report 2010.
Most Free
New Zealand
United States of America
United Kingdom
Least Free
North Korea
Republic of Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo

(As of February, 2010)

Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 (TI)

Nepal is the most corrupt country in Asia, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 published by the Transparency International on 26th October 2010.
With 2.3 scores, Nepal has fell three positions down this year and stood 146th among 180 countries. Last year, Nepal was on the 143rd rank.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world. The CPI is a "survey of surveys", based on various expert and business surveys.
Transparency International said that the decline in Nepal’s scores owes to the weak anti-corruption mechanism, volatile political situation and instable government.
Transparency International's CPI is the world's most credible measure of domestic, public sector corruption.
Afghanistan and Myanmar share second to last place with a score of 1.4, with Somalia coming in last with a score of 1.1.
The world's most peaceful countries score the best. In the 2010 CPI, Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tie for first place with scores of 9.3.
The ranking is based on data from country experts and business leaders at 10 independent institutions, including the World Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit and World Economic Forum.
Transparency International says that it has seen improvements in scores from 2009 to 2010 for Bhutan, Chile, Ecuador, FYR Macedonia, Gambia, Haiti, Jamaica, Kuwait, and Qatar.
The scores of the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Madagascar, Niger and the United States have all gone down.
The CPI scores countries on a scale of zero to 10, with zero indicating high levels of corruption and 10, low levels. And the most corrupt places in the world are not the most surprising. Unstable governments, often with a legacy of conflict, continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the CPI.