Indigenous peoples’ organizations demand amendments in Nepal’s election laws

23 September 2013

Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) and other indigenous peoples’ organizations have demanded amendments in Nepal’s election laws to provide for organizational representation of indigenous peoples through their ethnic organizations in second Constituent Assembly elections of the country.

In a memorandum submitted to Election Commission on Sunday and copied to High Level Political Committee, Chairperson of the Interim Election Council of Ministers and chairpersons of all political parties, the organizations have made the following demands:
1. Fully proportional representation of indigenous nationalities based on population and at least one representative per indigenous group in the second CA elections should be ensured.
2. The State should recognize the recommendation of indigenous peoples’ organizations with regards to Constituent Assembly members as per the Supreme Court order of 21 April 2013.
3. As provided in Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007, minimum 37 per cent of total number of members in second Constituent Assembly should be guaranteed from indigenous nationalities.
4. Manifestos of political parties should be published in indigenous languages understood by indigenous nationalities.
5. Effective implementation of International Labour Organization Convention 169 (C169) and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) should be guaranteed.
6. Indigenous communities not represented through direct elections and proportional representation system should be represented through recommendations of their representative and traditional institutions.
7. At least 37 per cent of candidates under direct and proportional seats for elections recommended from all geographies, departments and concerned agencies should be guaranteed from indigenous nationalities and same ratio should be ensured in acquired proportional seats.
8. The 20-point agreement signed between NEFIN and Government of Nepal on 7 August 2007 and following 9-point agreement signed with Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction on 22 May 2012 should be strictly adhered to.
9. As provided in Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007, all 26 seats to be nominated by the Council of Ministers should be ensured for indigenous nationalities.

The memorandum follows the directive order issued by the Supreme Court on 21 April to the Government, in response to a writ petition filed by indigenous peoples’ organizations, to study the demands of the organizations regarding participation of indigenous peoples in constitution making process through their freely chosen representatives and address the demands in drafting new constitution, laws and rules.

In 2009, immediately after the election of Constituent Assembly (CA), different indigenous peoples’ organizations, including Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Rights, had filed the writ petition in the Supreme Court. The writ petition had alleged exclusion of indigenous peoples in constitution making process in contravention of constitutional norms and Nepal’s international treaty obligations. The writ petition formally invoked provisions of International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) ratified by Nepal and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that Nepal voted in favor of.

LAHURNIP Secretary Advocate Shankar Limbu, at the submission of memorandum to the Election Commission, briefly explained the legal grounds of the memorandum.

For more information on the Supreme Court directive, click here.

For full text of the memorandum in Khas-Nepali, click here.

For Facebook page of NEFIN, click here.

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