NEPAL: Children's rights in the Special Procedures' reports

Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of the UN Special Procedures. This does not include reports of child specific Special Procedures, such as the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, which are available as separate reports.

Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purpose of clarity.



UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples
James Anaya
(A/HRC/12/34/Add.3 )
Country visit: 24 November to 2 December 2008
Report published: 20 July 2009

Healthcare: The Government of Nepal is to be commended for its commitment to international human rights standards, including those that specifically concern the rights of indigenous peoples, and for the initiatives it already has undertaken to move towards compliance with these standards. Despite significant improvements, Adivasi Janajati continue to confront discriminatory social and political arrangements that originated in the past, and whose current manifestations impede their effective control over their lives and undermine their cultural identities. Having suffered gradual loss of traditional lands and access to life-sustaining natural resources, across the country, they rank low in all human development indicators. Most Adivasi Janajati communities live in conditions of poverty that, on the whole, are double or more the national poverty level, not only in remote and rural regions but also in cities. Adequate health care among indigenous communities is lacking, with indigenous women and children being especially vulnerable, as are opportunities for education. (Paragraph 26)

Perpetual servitude: However, these compensation schemes have not fully worked in practice. Local communities claim that their current allotments of land and resources are insufficient for sustainable farming. Some former Kamaiyas still lack identification cards and land allotments, leading them to encroach onto neighbouring forests or establish unauthorized settlements in urban areas, with constant threats of eviction. The desperate situation of many former Kamaiyas contributes to perpetuating the sending of children to work as domestic workers in wealthier homes through the Kamalari system of perpetual servitude, which, although outlawed in 2006, is still practised. (Paragraph 40)

Measures should be enhanced to eradicate the Kamalari practice of bonded child labour and to rehabilitate children who have been victims of that system. (Paragraph 97)

Education: Until the adoption of the Interim Constitution, Nepali was the single language of governmental affairs, business and education. Despite the current constitutional protection, linguistic diversity is threatened, with various mother tongues of indigenous peoples endangered or on the verge of extinction. Although the Ministry of Education is now promoting the objective of multilingual education through various plans, many community members interviewed by the Special Rapporteur expressed concern that education in their mother tongues was not available for their children. In order to meet the Millennium Development Goals, Nepal has proclaimed free education at the primary level (grades I to V). Efforts to fulfil this objective are in place, but investment levels need to be sufficient to reach the most marginalized communities, including investment in scholarships, training of teachers speaking indigenous languages, and textbooks in indigenous languages. (Paragraph 44)

Trafficking: On a positive note, indigenous women leaders report a number of achievements in recent years, as the elections to the Constituent Assembly in April 2008 ensured broader representation of previously marginalized groups, including indigenous women. In addition, there is an increase in the availability of legal remedies for violence against women and the ability to file a claim for marital rape. But the widespread implementation of such advances still remains to be seen, and indigenous women expressed the view that they are still lacking in equal decision-making opportunity. The Special Rapporteur received various reports of alarming instances of domestic violence (both physical and psychological), rape and homicide, which to varying degrees seem to go unreported or unprosecuted. Suicide rates were reported to be high among indigenous women. There are also patterns of trafficking of indigenous women and girls. (Paragraph 46)

Child marriage: A pervasive factor contributing to abuses against indigenous women is the structural patriarchy and male-dominated political system that has characterized Nepal. Dowry, child marriage, polygamy and polyandry, for example, are not new practices, nor do they occur exclusively within indigenous communities in Nepal, but they do persist both in practice and the patriarchal attitudes they represent. Indigenous women share in expressing a desire to maintain the integrity of the distinctive cultures of Adivasi Janajati, while emphasizing the need to purge those cultures of these particular practices and attributes. (Paragraph 47)

Birth certificates: The Government should make efforts beyond those already in place to ensure that birth and citizen certificates are issued for indigenous people, in particular for those residing in the remote areas of the country. (Paragraph 84)

Cultural identity: The Government should strengthen programmes to ensure the well-being and development of indigenous children in all spheres of life, in a manner conducive to the strengthening of their cultural identities. (Paragraph 96)


UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
Manfred Nowak
(E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.5 )
Country visit: 10 to 16 September 2005
Report published: 9 January 2006

Forced recruitment of children: The Special Rapporteur also received shocking evidence of torture, including mutilation, carried out by the Maoists in order to extort money, punish non-cooperation and intimidate others, as well as allegations of forced recruitment of women and children. Methods of torture included beatings with sticks on the legs, piercing of legs with metal rods, beatings with rifle butts on ankles, and mutilations such as amputation of toes. In view of the short duration of the mission, the Special Rapporteur was unable to establish direct contacts with representatives of the Maoists and visit detention facilities under their control. (Paragraph 19)

The Special Rapporteur calls on the Maoists to end torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and to stop the practice of involuntary recruitment, in particular of women and children. (Paragraph 34)

Juvenile detention: The conditions of detention in the facilities the Special Rapporteur visited were generally poor, especially in terms of overcrowding and sanitation and acknowledges that the lack of adequate resources may be partly to blame. However, the conditions in Hanuman Dhoka Police Office could only be described as inhuman. Among other things, the cells were filthy, overcrowded - sometimes 12 persons in a cell approximately 3 m x 4 m - poorly ventilated, with no provision for any leisure activities. The detention of several 14-year-old boys among the adults was seriously disturbing to the Special Rapporteur. (Paragraph 28)


UN Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons
Walter Kälin
(E/CN.4/2006/71/Add.2 )
Country visit:13 to 22 April 2005
Report published: 7 January 2006

Child soldiers: The present conflict is the cause of substantial displacement in Nepal. The reasons why individuals and families are displaced are complex. They encompass direct acts of violence or threats that have been made to them personally by members of the CPN-M; their refusal to let their children be forcibly recruited or to be forced to contribute to the insurgency with food and money; fear of being subject to reprisals by the RNA or caught in the crossfire; a general feeling of insecurity and uncertainty; the conflict-induced collapse of local infrastructures and coping mechanisms within villages; and economic reasons, since the economic decline in the traditionally poorer areas of Nepal has reportedly been hastened by the conflict. While Maoist violence may seem to be the principal cause for displacement in Nepal today, it is not the only one. (Paragraph 15)

The Representative also encountered some cases where whole villages were displaced within days or even hours. Such mass displacements occurred in particular where vigilante or self-defence groups emerged in a specific location, threatening or even killing alleged Maoists. This was followed by retaliation from the CPN-M, causing mass displacement. These people fled to the next district headquarters or, in the case of areas in Terai, over the border to India. The Representative visited areas affected by such mass displacement in Kapilvastu and Dailekh districts. Village mobs or vigilante groups reportedly killed over 20 alleged Maoists in Kapilvastu district between 17 and 23 February 2005. The houses and properties of alleged CPN-M supporters were burnt or looted by the rampaging villagers, provoking the displacement of over 300 families, partly across the border. It was reported to the Representative that some politicians from the capital had encouraged these acts. He also heard allegations of RNA detachments standing by the mobs but not interfering with these extrajudicial killings. At the time of the Representative’s mission, no judicial investigation had been started to find or punish the culprits. In the villages of Namuli, Toli and Soleri, in the district of Dailekh, villagers formed local committees to parlay with the CPN-M to stop abducting children and teachers and to desist from the taxations. Reprisals by the CPN-M in November 2004 led over 400 families from the region to flee to the Dailekh district headquarters. (Paragraph 17)

Regarding the situation of internal displacement in Nepal, the Representative draws the following main conclusions:

The reasons leading to this displacement are complex and encompass direct acts of violence or threats against the victims personally; confiscation of property, refusal to let their children be forcibly recruited or to be forced to contribute with food and money to the insurgency; fear of being subject to reprisals by the RNA or being caught in the crossfire; a general feeling of insecurity and uncertainty; the conflict-induced collapse of local infrastructures and coping mechanisms within villages; and economic reasons, since the economic decline in the traditionally poorer areas of Nepal has been hastened by the conflict. While Maoist violence may seem to be the principal cause for displacement in Nepal today, it is not the only one; (Paragraph 65c)

Child abductions: People left their villages for different reasons: they were being directly threatened and targeted by the insurgency; they witnessed extrajudicial killings, lynching and seizure or destruction of property with no protection from the State; they felt that the taxation and other demands for support of the CPN-M were no longer bearable; they refused to relinquish a family member to the conflict; or they were afraid of being caught up in the crossfire. Some of these acts amount to creating arbitrary displacement (Guiding Principle 6) as prohibited, inter alia, by customary humanitarian law. A rapid assessment of the situation of 56 displaced families in the Biratnagar area prepared shortly before the Representative’s visit to Morang district revealed that 40 per cent had left because of threats made to them, 30 per cent because of confiscation of their property and the remaining 30 per cent for a variety of reasons including killing of a family member, spying, torture and ill-treatment, or extortion. The Representative also heard of cases where teachers and school children had been abducted for extended periods, only to be accused upon their return of being CPN-M supporters because they had survived. (Paragraph 40)

Education: Most of the interlocutors with whom the Representative spoke, including many government officials and army officers, agreed that there was a large but unknown number of people who had left their homes involuntarily and were unable to return for the reasons mentioned. Indications of this were, among others, the many empty houses in significant areas of the country, whereas with traditional economic migration, some family members are usually left behind; villages without younger generations; and a very significant increase in population in the urban and semi-urban parts of Terai. In Dailekh district, for example, the Representative was informed by members of the armed forces that the rural areas in the northern belt of the district were largely empty. A local administrator explained that in his village of origin in Ilam district about two thirds of the population had left in order to escape from the conflict. On the other hand, the local administrators in the Terai districts whom the Representative met, all confirmed that the population in urban and semi-urban areas under the control of the Government had significantly increased in the past few years, causing a sharp rise in rental costs and a huge pressure on schools faced with a large influx of children from rural areas. (Paragraph 19)

Regarding rights related to other economic, social and cultural protection needs, most of the IDPs interviewed by the Representative prioritized the following problems: lack of consistent aid, both food and non-food; difficulties of access to schooling for children; lack of work and access to subsistence opportunities; difficult access to health and care facilities. (Paragraph 52)

Women were in particular worried about access to education for their children and the lack of work opportunities. They pointed out to the lack of medical care, mainly for children. When asked, many confessed being afraid of having to resort to prostitution or to send their children into indentured labour in order for their offspring to survive, because they themselves could no longer pay for their upkeep. They also stated that they had little or no access to reproductive health services since they had been displaced. Although they often came from regions with an already low medical coverage, health risks had increased as a result of displacement and therefore needed greater attention. The situation was particularly dire for women heads of households and for elderly people without families to care for them. (Paragraph 53)

Regarding education (Guiding Principle 23), internally displaced children face several problems. In particular, they often lack the transfer papers issued by the school in the village or town of origin necessary to be enrolled in a new school. As the Representative noted with appreciation, in many places access to schools for displaced children is granted in a flexible and non-bureaucratic manner. But education officers in the districts visited by the Representative confirmed that the high increase of primary school enrolments without the corresponding increase in the State budget affects the quality of education. Finally, once families exhaust their savings or the support capacity of their relatives, sending children to school becomes too costly for many parents. The difficult education situation is exacerbated by the fact that many private, and a considerable number of public schools, have closed due to threats and acts of violence by the CPN-M. (Paragraph 54)

The main problems and needs faced by IDPs in Nepal are security and protection; discrimination; food, shelter and health; access to education for children; documentation; sexual abuse and increased domestic violence; risk of increased female prostitution; risk of increased child labour; lack of protection of property rights; and denial of voting and electoral rights; (Paragraph 65d)

The Representative recommends that to the Government:

To make particular efforts to facilitate the enrolment of displaced children in schools even when they cannot produce the necessary documentation. Particular attention should be paid to the schooling of girl children. Furthermore, efforts should be made to ensure that the IDP children can remain in school and not be obliged to leave school to work for their own sustenance; (Paragraph 67a)

Child registration: Regarding other civil and political protection needs, many IDPs face problems due to lacking documentation (see Guiding Principle 20), both from their places of origin, but also in their new places of residence. Authorities have to date not taken any measures to facilitate the issuance of new documents to replace documents lost in the course of displacement. This is a major obstacle for IDPs to integrate into the towns and district headquarters they fled to. It becomes a human rights problem because it bars citizens from all access to public services and participation. The Representative is especially worried that no particular effort seems to have been made to help the IDPs register their newly born children. (Paragraph 56)

The Representative recommends to the CPN-M:

− To respect and ensure respect for common article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relevant norms of customary international humanitarian law and publicly commit themselves to go beyond these minimal standards. This means concretely to distinguish between combatants and persons who do not or no longer participate in the combat; to abstain from killing civilians, spreading terror among them, extorting them, abducting teachers and school children for indoctrination and training purposes, restricting the movements of civilians and largely contributing to a general climate of fear and uncertainty; (Paragraph 66b)

The Representative recommends that to the Government:

To ensure that school admission, access to health care and other services is granted on a needs basis and does not depend on registration; (Paragraph 67a)


UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
(E/CN.4/2005/65/Add.1 )
Country visit: 6 to 14 December 2004
Report published: 28 January 2005

Victims of disappearances: In meeting with many relatives of the disappeared, the Working Group was reminded that families are also defined as victims of disappearances under international standards. In Nepal, the vast majority of the disappeared are men. Women are frequently left with small children and no means of support. The social, economic, legal and psychological effects are devastating for families. The Working Group was told of similar consequences that face those people who are released from military or police detention after being suspected of being a Maoist, though they may never have been tried, or even charged. They are tainted by mere suspicion, and may find it difficult to integrate back into their communities. (Paragraph 28)

Child soldiers: Maoist forces have also committed hundreds of acts of disappearance. The Working Group heard deeply troubling reports from human rights activists from across Nepal that the Maoists are more likely to kill perceived opponents outright than to make them disappear. Yet the Maoists do systematically kidnap children to serve as soldiers. Because these children are forcibly taken from their families and are brought into armed units that take them away from their homes, many of the children disappear. (Paragraph 29)


UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
Asma Jahangir
(E/CN.4/2001/9/Add.2 )
Country visit: 5 to 14 February 2000
Report published: 9 August 2000

Attacks on minors: According to sources close to the CPN (Maoist) the police have on repeated occasions carried out extrajudicial executions in connection with their operations against the so-called “people’s war”. Police units are alleged to have attacked gatherings and meetings by unarmed sympathizers of the party, including a number of minors. The police are further alleged to have summarily executed captured Maoist fighters. A number of civilians, with no apparent link to the CPN (Maoist), have also reportedly been killed in unclear circumstances in connection with clashes between the police and armed CPN militants. (Paragraph 19)

Information gathered by non-governmental organizations indicate that on 13 January 2000, three armed Maoists entered the Dhanku VDC and ordered the villagers to provide food and shelter to 50-60 members of their group, who were to perform a cultural programme as part of their political campaign. The following day the villagers were ordered to attend the programme which was set up in the local school. A considerable number of women and children from the village were among the audience, but many of them left towards the end of the manifestation before the shooting started. (Paragraph 27)

The police were reportedly alerted at around 5 p.m. A patrol of 14 police officers under the command of an Inspector were on their way to the school building when one of the Maoists who was keeping watch fired a warning shot in the air. Following the warning, all but two of the Maoists managed to flee the scene. As the first shots rang out, the villagers ran out of the school building and took cover in nearby houses and tea shops. Reports indicate that the police opened fire indiscriminately and without warning. At least two persons who were in a tea shop were allegedly killed when police officers fired their guns at point-blank range through the shop window. Other villagers were reportedly shot while running for cover. Seven villagers were killed in the assault. Two unarmed Maoists who had not managed to escape were reportedly taken into custody by the police. It is alleged that both of them were summarily executed by the police some 8-10 hours later. It is further reported that the police found a hand grenade left behind by the Maoists, which they detonated the following day as a cover-up of their operation. Two minors were reportedly among those killed: Madan Kumar Chalaune and Padam Dholi. They were both 16 years of age. (Paragraph 28)

During her visit to Nepalgunj, the Special Rapporteur had the opportunity to interview eyewitnesses to the events in Dungal village. Three of these persons were recovering from gunshot wounds sustained during the incident. The testimonies heard by the Special Rapporteur largely corroborate the account given by non-governmental sources. In the afternoon of 14 January, some 60 persons were gathered in the village school, where they had been ordered to attend a cultural programme organized by the CPN (Maoist). By the time the police arrived to the village, the women and children had already left the school as it was getting late. Before the shooting started, many of the villagers ran out trying to take shelter in nearby houses and shops. When the Maoists keeping watch fired the warning shot, all the Maoists, except two, fled. The testimonies indicate that the police when launching their assault fired their rifles indiscriminately at the houses and shops where civilians where taking shelter. Some villagers were reportedly shot dead while trying to run for cover. One eyewitness confirmed earlier reports that at least two persons had been shot dead in a shop by police officers who opened fire through the window. A total of 9 people were killed and 11 wounded in the police assault. All the armed CPN (Maoist) members had fled by the time the police entered the village. Witnesses said that the two members of the CPN (Maoist) who were killed in the incident were summarily executed after having been captured unarmed by the police. According to testimonies, the bodies of those killed were disposed of by burning without being formally identified. (Paragraph 29)

It is reported that 48 children have been killed in the conflict between the CPN (Maoist) and the police. Each year, the number continues to increase as more and more children are seen as suspected Maoists. Reports from non-governmental organizations claim that 37 children have been killed by the police and 11 by the Maoists since 1996. None of the cases attributed to the police was reportedly investigated by the competent authorities. In a list prepared by a non-governmental organization, one 11-year-old, four 12-year-old and two 13-year-old children are among the victims of killings by the police. The Special Rapporteur is dismayed that the police officers accused of these killings were not investigated, and that the Government appears not to have taken a serious view of these grave human rights violations. (Paragraph 31)

It is the primary duty of every State, and of the international community as a whole, to protect the right to life of children. Any violation of this right by the State itself is totally unacceptable. The Government of Nepal must investigate every single incident of children being killed and ensure that those found responsible for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions are brought to justice. Such investigations should involve non-governmental organizations to ensure transparency and to inspire confidence among the families of the victims. (Paragraph 70)

Usage of child soldiers: The Special Rapporteur is deeply disturbed by consistent reports that the CPN (Maoist) continues to recruit children to be used in armed activities. While it appears that most of the minors engaged by the movement are used as messengers or in other support activities, some children under the age of 18, at times as young as 13, are reportedly being trained in the use of firearms and also sent into combat zones. It is alarming that children are being exploited in this way for political purposes and exposed to the dangers and horrors of war. The Special Rapporteur wishes to reiterate her strong opposition to the use of children in armed conflict – an issue she has discussed in her earlier annual reports to the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1999/39 and E/CN.4/2000/3). She urges the leadership of the CPN (Maoist) to recognize the need to protect children from the violence and trauma of armed conflict as a fundamental principle of human dignity and decency. The plight of the children dragged into war and violence further underscores the urgency of bringing an end to this conflict. (Paragraph 35)

The Special Rapporteur is concerned that these wide-reaching powers, coupled with vague and ambiguous formulations such as “subversive acts”, could easily lead to more extensive use of firearms by the police, which in turn would increase the risk of extrajudicial killings and executions and provide legal cover for such violations of human rights by the police. In this context the Special Rapporteur wishes to draw the Government’s attention to the United Nations Basic Principles for the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. The Special Rapporteur is also concerned that the increased powers accorded to the police to arrest persons without warrants could result in more cases of unacknowledged detention, which could in turn increase the risk of custodial deaths and disappearances. At the same time, the Special Rapporteur is encouraged to note that the proposed amendments also include special penal provisions against the use of children in violent activities. The Special Rapporteur raised her concerns with regard to the bill in her discussions with government representatives in Kathmandu. They assured her that the amendments would be presented in a form that would be in line with Nepal’s international human rights obligations. (Paragraph 49)

The Special Rapporteur is deeply disturbed by reports that children are being used by the CPN (Maoist) in its armed activities. She calls on the leadership of this movement to immediately bring this practice to an end, and to ensure that civilians are protected from any form of violence, threats or intimidation by members of the CPN (Maoist). At the same time, the Government should increase its efforts to address the social and economic realities that cause children to be dragged into the conflict. The Special Rapporteur further believes that non-governmental organizations can play a constructive role in assessing the scope of and identifying possible solutions to this problem. (Paragraph 71)



Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.