03/19/2009, 00.00
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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visits Kathmandu

by Kalpit Parajuli
The trip will last four days. Meetings scheduled with the prime minister, foreign minister, and local activists. The Maoist government is under observation. Violence is down with the end of the war, but a widespread climate of fear remains. Impunity and lawlessness are the most urgent problems.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Violations of human rights, lawlessness, and impunity: these are the three main points on the agenda of Navanethem Pillay, the representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), who arrived in Nepal yesterday for a four-day visit.

The United Nations envoy is scheduled to meet with prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, foreign minister Upendra Yadav, and human rights activists working in the country. At the center of the talks are the points that emerged in the 2009 report of the OHCHR, presented on March 5.

According to the office of the High Commissioner, the end of the decades-long conflict between Maoist rebels and the government, the dismissal of the king, and the rise to power of communist leader Prachanda have led to an improvement in human rights in Nepal. Nonetheless, Pillay wants to ask the government of Kathmandu for more effort to lay the foundation of the lasting peace and development that are still lacking in the country.

The rise to power of the Maoists put an end to the violence of the conflict, but caused an increase in the phenomena of lawlessness and impunity. There are various cases of journalists who have been the victims of threats, beatings, and murders, with no prosecution of those responsible. The report of the High Commissioner's office affirms that these events document a widespread climate of fear in the country that risks creating social divisions and erupting into new violence.

Pillay will also visit the Nepalese branch of the High Commissioner's office, and will talk with the government of Kathmandu about renewing the mandate of its mission, which expires in June of this year.

The topics on the agenda of the UN commissioner also include the proposal to base the regional office of the OHCHR for all of southeast Asia in the country at the foot of the Himalayas. Dinesh Bhattarai, Nepal's ambassador at the UN headquarters in Geneva, has said that the government of Kathmandu has no preconceptions about this idea, but maintains that the proposal "may have to be seen in a regional context," consulting the opinions of other states in the area.

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