Saturday, March 30, 2013

Diplomatic code to regulate meetings with foreigners

KATHMANDU, March 5: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) is all set to introduce an amended Diplomatic Code of Conduct with an objective of bringing it in line with international standards.

The Diplomatic Code of Conduct 2013, once endorsed by a cabinet meeting scheduled later this week, will bring under its jurisdiction the prime minister, ministers and other top leaders including officer-bearers of political parties and incumbent as well as former government official above the rank of gazetted first class.

The code will not only make it mandatory for them to receive prior permission from MoFA but also require them to be briefed by MoFA officials on the tentative agenda the foreign dignitaries want to discuss with them.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha said MoFA finalized the draft code of conduct submitted by a technical committee for cabinet approval.

The committee formed under Deputy Prime Minister Shrestha included Home Secretary Nabin Kumar Ghimire, Foreign Secretary Durga Prasad Bhattarai and Law Secretary Bhesh Raj Sharma. A meeting held at MoFA on Sunday finalized the new code for cabinet approval after a series of discussions and necessary revisions.
MoFA in August 2011 had first introduced the Diplomatic Code of Conduct 2011 in the wake of controversy over the meetings of the prime minister, ministers and other senior government officials with foreigners.

The new code also makes it mandatory for political parties to form a separate protocol section and keep records of matters that transpire at meetings with foreign dignitaries. The parties will be required to provide details of the things that transpire at meetings with foreign dignitaries, as and when demanded by the government bodies concerned. This code will be applicable to meetings with INGO officials also.

Party leaders and former and incumbent government officials will now be required to take into consideration the protocol requirements of persons they are holding meetings with.

Officials involved in the preparation of the code said the government is mulling a specific venue meant for former government officials to hold such meetings.
However, the protocol issue won´t be applicable for courtesy calls and farewell calls.

The new Diplomatic Code of Conduct likewise aims at restricting the movement of foreign diplomats based in Kathmandu. “Once the new Code of Conduct is brought into implementation, their movements would be regulated,” said a MoFA official involved in the preparation of the new code.

Govt ups alert to avert incidents by Tibetans 

KATHMANDU, March 10: Amid heightened concern that Tibetan exiles could unleash ´untoward´ incidents to mark Tibetan Uprising Day, the government has stepped up security vigilance and increased the presence of police at various ´sensitive places´ in Kathmandu Valley.

Highly placed government sources said the government increased the security presence at sensitive places such as Bouddha, Swyambhu, Jawalakhel, Baluwatar (where the Chinese embassy is located) and Hattisar (location of consular section) amid credible intelligence reports that more Tibetan activists are preparing to self-immolate.

Sources said the government decided to adopt additional security measures to foil any such bid after a Tibetan youth, Thundup Dopchen, died a few hours after attempting self-immolation in Bouddha on February 13.

Government officials say his personal particulars and the motive behind the self-immolation are yet to be independently verified as no kin or relative has approached to receive the dead body.

“We have kept police on duty in areas deemed sensitive on high alert and also increased the presence of police personnel in such areas,” said a senior police official, asking to remain unnamed.

Exiled Tibetans celebrate March 10 as the anniversary of the Tibetan uprising that took place in Lhasa in 1959. There were apprehensions in Nepal that Tibetan activists would resort to more self-immolation bids, also in view of China´s annual legislative session that began early this month.

Sources said the Home Ministry lodged a separate complaint with officials from the United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) in Kathmandu after intelligence confirmed that the Tibetan youth who self-immolated last month had gone to Boudhha from the UNHCR-run Tibetan Reception Center. Home Ministry officials in a meeting with UNCHR officials asked them to closely monitor such activities on the part of Tibetans taking refuge at the Center.

As Tibetan exiles spearheaded anti-China demonstration in Kathmandu in March, 2008, marking the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against the Chinese takeover of Tibet, China has grown very assertive about the Tibet issue in Nepal.

Officials said the recent self-immolation case has made China more wary, leading it to pile additional pressure on Nepal to effectively curb such activities by Tibetans.
A few days after the self-immolation incident, the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu had sent a diplomatic note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), asking the government of Nepal to effectively curb such ´anti-China´ activities. The diplomatic note also reminded the Nepal government of its commitment to a ´One-China´ policy.

Nepal recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) as an integral part of China under its ´One China policy´. “It is the long-standing policy of the Nepal government not to allow any activities that are detrimental to the interests of our neighbors. We have made necessary security arrangements in areas deemed sensitive to foil any untoward incidents,” Home Ministry Spokesperson Shanker Koirala told Republica. He, however, declined to divulge details of what security measures were adopted to contain such activites.

Nepal has recognized all Tibetans who entered Nepal before 1990 as refugees. According to a census conducted in 1993, the number of Tibetan refugees living in 21 various districts in Nepal stood at 12,540. Authorities say the figure might have reached over 20,000 by now.

NC Mahasamiti meeting in Nawalparasi from April 8

23 CWC members want Regmi to step down from the post of CJ

KATHMANDU, March 29: Keeping in view the upcoming CA elections, Nepali Congress (NC) on Thursday decided to hold its Mahasamiti meeting in Nawalparasi district in the second week of April.

A CWC meeting held at the party´s headquarters in Sanepa decided to hold the four-day Mahasamiti meeting starting April 8 to formulate party´s election strategy and also to collect suggestion from Mahasamiti members to prepare the election manifesto.

The Mahasamiti members are expected to give suggestions to the party´s leadership on various contentious issues such as federalism, system of governance, inclusiveness and various other issues related to the new constitution and concurrent political situation.

Mahasamiti meeting, which is mandated to take policy decisions, is the most powerful body of the NC after the party´s general convention. "The Mahasamiti meeting will also bring amendments to the party´s statute as per the suggestions made by the 12th General Convention, national gathering of the party´s district presidents, and suggestions received during the orientation of the party´s regional gathering," CWC member Jiwan Pariyar told Republica.

The CWC meeting entrusted Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel to prepare a political paper and General Secretary Krishna Sitaula to prepare the party´s statute amendment proposal to be presented at the Mahasamiti meeting. Poudel and Sitaula have been asked to submit their respective draft proposals at the next CWC meeting scheduled for Tuesday for endorsement, according to NC spokesman Dilendra Prasad Badu.

NC had last held its Mahasamiti meeting to bring various amendments to the party´s statute in November, 2009. Among other things, the meeting had introduced reservation policy in the party´s organizational structures and made a provision of directly electing one general secretary and treasurer through the general convention.

The CWC meeting Thursday also asked the Election Commission to run a campaign to update voters´ registration across the country. The meeting asked the government to make necessary arrangements to provide citizenship certificates by descent to the children of those acquiring citizenship certificates by birth.

Altogether 13 CWC members including K B Gurung, Bimalendra Nidhi, Arjun Narsingh KC, Bal Bahadur KC, Mahesh Acharya, Narahari Acharya, Prakash Sharan Mahat, Sujata Koirala, Bhism Raj Angdembe, Shekhar Koirala, Chandra Bhandari, Dhan Raj Gurung and Pushpa Bhusal had put forth their view on various issues during the meeting.

They underscored the need for holding dialogue with the ´disgruntled political forces including the Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist, which have been obstructing voters´ registration process, to ensure timely poll as the protracted political transition had not only rendered the country historically weak, but also stalled overall development process in the country.

23 CWC members demand Regmi step down as CJ

A group of ´disgruntled´ CWC members of the party have demanded that Chairman of the Interim Election Council of Ministers Khil Raj Regmi should resign immediately from the post of chief justice.

CWC member K B Gurung on behalf of the 23 CWC members presented a four-point proposal for endorsement at the outset of the CWC meeting. In the proposal, the ´disgruntled´ CWC members demanded that the party officially ask Khil Raj Regmi to step down from the post of chief justice, ask the govt to conduct election by mid-July, fill the remaininig vacancies in the constitutional bodies only after fresh election and start holding negotiations with the political forces that have been obstructing the voters´ registration process.

The CWC members argued that the same person heading both executive and judiciary violates the basic principle of separation of powers. They also expressed strong dissatisfaction over the decision of the party to support the Maoist proposal to appoint chief justice as head of government and said the decision undermined NC´s credentials as a democratic party.

Referring to the position of the Nepal Bar Association and various international organizations including the International Commission of Jurists, CWC members including Shekhar Koirala, Pushpa Bhusal, Chandra Bhandari, Sujata Koirala and Arjun Narsingh KC had come down heavily against the party leadership for agreeing to appoint the chief justice to head election government. "It seems we made mistakes by putting huge trust on our senior leaders. The decision of the party´s top leaders to accept a CJ-led government is against the decisions made by the CWC meeting earlier," CWC member Chandra Bhandari had said at the meeting.
TRC ordinance does not meet int'l obligations: Diplomatic community 

KATHMANDU, March 20: At a time when the kin of the conflict victims have expressed strong exception to the “opaque political deal” on the formation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the diplomatic community in Kathmandu is preparing to join the chorus with them.

Sources said various European as well as other diplomatic missions in Kathmandu have concluded that an ordinance relating to the proposed TRC published in the Nepal Gazette on Monday not only does not meet Nepal´s international obligations, but also takes a “step backward” from what was proposed by the erstwhile parliament.

“Since it needs various improvements, we are currently in negotiations to pile up diplomatic pressure for necessary corrections in the proposed TRC,” said a diplomatic source.

The latest position of the diplomatic community on the TRC ordinance comes in the wake of conflict victims objecting to the “unilateral” decision of the four major political forces on finalize the ordinance without holding consultations with them. The victims have accused the political parties of failing to meet their international obligations.

The proposed ordinance on TRC, in view of the diplomatic community, fails to meet international standards in many respects despite its optimistic preamble and Section 2, which is contravened by many of its following sections.

“The preamble has all the good words. It wants to end impunity, investigate serious human rights violations during the conflict, provide justice to the victims and create an environment of peace and reconciliation in the society,” said a source familiar with the development.

Though Section 2 of the ordinance provides a list of nine kinds of serious human rights violations, there is no section in the ordinance that makes the perpetrators of crimes listed under Section 2 culpable. Likewise, the commission has been asked to work under the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, instead of making it directly answerable to the government or the president.

Section 2 has recognized murder, abduction and hostage taking, disappearance, causing deformities or disablement, physical or mental torture, rape and sexual violence, looting, seizure, breaking or arson of private and public property, forceful eviction from house and land or displacement by any other means and any type of inhuman act committed against international human rights or humanitarian law or other crime against humanity as cases of serious human rights violations.

What has drawn serious concern of the conflict victims and diplomatic community on TRC ordinance are the provisions in its sections 22 to 29, which clearly expose the mala-fide intention to eventually grant general amnesty to even those involved in serious cases of human rights violations during the conflict.

TRC is empowered to facilitate reconciliation if an appeal is either made by the perpetrator or the victim. It is feared that many of the perpetrators will appeal for such an arrangement, which in all likelihood may turn into a forceful reconciliation simply on the basis of a superficial apology or “compensation”, given the high political access of the perpetrators. Likewise, the use of words such as the commission “may”, instead of “must” to seek the consent of the victims prior to effecting reconciliation has increased the risk of justice being denied to the victims concerned.

Section 23, under “Amnesty Provisions” states that while carrying out investigation pursuant to the ordinance, the commission may, if deemed reasonable, recommend amnesty to the perpetrator explaining sufficient grounds and reasons thereof. Subsection 1 of the same section states that the commission may, on the basis of sufficient reasons, recommend for the grant of an amnesty. This is against the spirit of the preamble and other articles.

Likewise, subsection 2 states that notwithstanding anything contained in Sub Section (1), the commission shall not recommend amnesty to perpetrators of serious human rights violation cases, including rape, which lacks sufficient reasons and grounds for granting amnesty.

Additionally, Section 29 of the ordinance empowers the Attorney General to decide, upon a written request from the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, whether to file a case, creating cumbersome three-tier barriers “apparently to deny justice” to the conflict victims.