A week ahead of the last phase of Nepal’s first parliamentary elections following the promulgation of The Constitution of Nepal 2015, as election-related human rights violations have increased of late, Terai Human Rights Rights Defenders Alliance (THRD Alliance) calls on the Government of Nepal to fulfil its responsibility to respect and protect people’s human rights during elections.

Out of the two phases of the country’s first Parliamentary elections scheduled in the country after the federalism came into force, the first-phase elections were held in 34 districts of three provinces (Province Number 3, 4 and 6)  on 26 November 2017 in free and fair manner despite few violent incidents. The last phase of the parliamentary and provincial assembly elections is scheduled for 7 December 2017.

THRD Alliance is monitoring the human rights situation of 19 districts located in the Terai region through its human rights monitors and officers. Here are some of the election-related human rights violations recorded by THRD Alliance.

Police intervene election campaign in Rautahat: 30 November 2017

In Rautahat, locals and cadres of Rastriya Janta Party Nepal (RJPN) sustained injuries after police intervened in the election campaign organized at Garuda Municipality on 30 November 2017. As police prevented showing video/pictures from the Madhes Movement during the campaign, a clash between locals and RJPN cadres ensued and five persons were injured. The situation had remained tense and police resorted to lobbying tear gas canisters and firing in the air to bring the situation under control.

Temporary policeman deployed for election dies in a bomb blast in Dang: 29 November 2017

Binod Chaudhary (23 years old), a temporary police personnel deployed for the security of the elections in Dang district, sustained injuries after a bomb, reportedly targeting Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s election campaign, exploded in Tulsipur on 28 November 2017.  While undergoing treatment in Nepalgunj, he died on 29 November 2017. Eight people were injured in the incident that occurred near the venue of the election campaign event organized by Nepali Congress.

Blasts continue in Siraha, Saptari, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Rautahat, Banke and Bardiya among other districts

On 24 November 2017, a pressure cooker bomb exploded at the election contact office of CPN (Maoist Centre)/left alliance located in Mirchaiya-5 of Siraha district. Similar blasts targeting election candidates and their cadres, and election-related violence have continued in Saptari, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Rautahat, Dang and other districts.

Here is the factsheet showing electoral violence and contestation during Nepal Elections.

Factsheet showing electoral violence and contestation during Nepal Elections.

Conclusion/Findings of THRDA Monitoring/Call To Action

Talking to our human rights monitors, voters of those districts, following a series of bomb blasts ahead of the elections, said that they are worried whether they could exercise their right to vote in a free and fair manner.

The upcoming elections are scheduled in the areas where THRD Alliance has documented serious human rights violations by the security authorities, including illegal detention and arbitrary detention, torture and excessive use of force. The security authorities have a responsibility to respect and protect people’s human rights. While carrying out their duties, they must abide by international standards. However, this is contradictory with Rautahat incident on 30 November 2017. We found that police used force to beat up the cadres of RJPN while they were showing their campaign videos/photos. Showing the videos is not the breach of the election code of conduct. Even it does, law enforcement agencies should have taken legal actions than using force against the cadres.

THRD Alliance calls upon the government authorities and electoral stakeholders, including Election Commission (EC) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to ensure that elections are held in a peaceful, free and fair manner.

NHRC shows concerns over the violence, EC instructs authorities to ensure effective security

On 30 November 2017, condemning the aforementioned incidents of bomb attack in in different parts of the country and showing its serious concerns over them, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the government authorities to investigate them promptly and take adequate security measures to ensure free and fair elections for the upcoming second phase.

Likewise, with the scheduled date for the second phase elections drawing closer amid rising incidents of the blast, the Election Commission (EC) on 30 November 2017 directed the law enforcement agencies to step up measures to ensure security for the elections.

THRD Alliance would like to call upon once again NHRC to play its role in independently investigating and acting upon reported cases of human rights violations, and the EC also should take all necessary measures to ensure that the upcoming elections meet international standards of credible elections.