Do not curtail our constitutional rights: Stakeholders

Madhav Dulal/Kathmandu (Pahichan) August 14 – Government says all citizens are equal. Citizens complaint that they are denied from equal rights. Government says there is an environment that all people are treated equally and they can get justice. Where is equality? Where is justice?

Those concerns and questions were raised in the international conference held in Kathmandu on Nepal’s constitution. Stakeholders said fundamental rights mentioned in the constitution were not granted for three years.

The program was attended by Ministers, lawmakers, politicians, and national and international experts. They are of the view that it is unfortunate to wait for three years for the implementation of rights mentioned in constitution.

They said: In the eleventh hour there is a sort of hurry on the part of government to formulate laws. At the same time, there were concerns for the lack of consultations with concerned stakeholders in the lawmaking process.

They warned government not to curtail the constitutional rights while making the laws. Advocate Dinesh Tripathi blame that the mentality of the current leadership is old. He said fundamental rights should be provided without any delay.

Constitutional Expert Nilambar Acharya said constitution has provided only assurances. “The mention of rights in constitution is not sufficient, there are some unwritten laws as well so we have to wait how those rights are translated into practice,” said Acharya.

Political Scientist Hari Sharma said government should heed the voices of those who are dissatisfied. Sharma said all the people irrespective of their gender identity, should get equal rights.

In the conference, sexual and gender minority complained that the citizenship bill tabled in Parliament only has provision relating to gender identity which is not sufficient. They said providing rights relating to citizenship and passport is not sufficient, there is a need of providing employment to this community.

Manish Dhakal who is vice-chair of Asia Pacific Transgender Network and Executive Director of Blue Diamond Society asked former lawmaker Sher Bahadur Tamang about the progress made so far in providing rights to sexual and gender minority.

Tamang said government has just started providing rights to the members of this community. Lawmaker Radheshyam Adhikari suggested providing advice in writing. Executive Director Dhakal, transgender Bhumika Shrestha drew the attention of Prime Minister KP Oli, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada and lawmakers from various parties. They said sexual and gender minority is not accommodated in the definition of minority. Dean of Kathmandu School of Law Bipin Adhikari said the three-day conference discussed on women, minority groups, persons with disabilities among others.

Addressing the concluding ceremony, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said constitution has granted equal rights to all citizens. “Government will implement the constitution and all people will get rights,” PM Oli said. PM Oli, however, did not mention about sexual and gender minority in his concluding speech.