Legal prohibition on cow-slaughter in Nepal infringes indigenous peoples’ rights, UN experts told

Two Nepali non-governmental organizations have submitted an urgent communication to UN rights experts informing that legal prohibition on cow-slaughter in Nepal infringes indigenous peoples’ right to freedom of religion and cultural rights and threatens the secularity of the Nepali state.

Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples and National Coalition Against Racial Discrimination sent in the joint communication on Friday to four UN Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression the Field of Cultural Rights, and the Freedom of Religion or Belief.

“The communication is submitted to raise the issue of the continued prosecution of indigenous peoples under Nepal’s law against cow-slaughter—a law deeply rooted and wholly justified by Hindu (and therefore non-secular principles) and one which historically has been used to carry out the State’s forced cultural assimilation of indigenous peoples and to forge a homogenous identity for Nepali citizens,” the NGOs write.

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Joint statement on indigenous peoples’ access to justice in Nepal (HRC 27th, 2014)

Oral Statement: 27th session of the Human Rights Council

Items 3 & 5: Clustered ID with SR on indigenous peoples & Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP)

17 September 2014

Thank you Mr. President,

 

This is a joint statement by IMADR and National Coalition Against Racial Discrimination (NCARD) in Nepal.[i] We highly commend the works of the Special Rapporteur and the Expert Mechanism towards strengthening indigenous peoples’ access to justice over the years. In particular, we would like to recall and endorse the recommendations made in Special Rapporteur’s 2004 report on indigenous peoples and administration of justice and the Expert Mechanisms’ advice in its 2013 study on access to justice.

 

In Nepal, indigenous peoples continue to be overrepresented in incarceration in criminal justice systems. A report by a local NGO indicated that out of more than 3,500 detainees they visited during 2013, the largest number – a quarter of the detainees – was from indigenous groups.[ii] A 2012 report from the same NGO showed that indigenous detainees were disproportionately subjected to torture in detention than those from dominant groups.[iii] More

Cases of persecution of indigenous peoples in Nepal under law against cow-slaughter reported in 2012/13

Indigenous peoples in Nepal continue to be persecuted under its law against cow-slaughter—a law deeply rooted and wholly justified by Hindu (and therefore non-secular principles) and one which historically has been used to carry out the State’s forced cultural assimilation of indigenous peoples and to forge a homogenous identity for Nepali citizens.

The act violates namely article 8 of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that states that “indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.” Further, under Article 1 of UNDRIP and Article 3 of International Labour Organisation Convention No. 169 (ILO C. 169), indigenous peoples are due the full measure of human rights and fundamental rights promised to all peoples under international human rights law—including the rights to freedom of religion, equality before the law and minority rights to cultural expression as protected respectively in Articles 18, 26 and 27 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

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