European Parliament Monitoring Mission to Nepal (16-21 July 2006)
« We have heen impressed hy the scale alld rapidity of what has recently been achieved lowal’ds peace although it is still evolving a nd the situation is s till fragile » These a re the words of Neena Gill, Leader of the European Parliament Monitoring Mission at the conclusion of their stay in Nepal.
On May 18 2006, the European Parliament, welcoming Nepal’s return to democratic rule, passed a resolution charging seven members of various political groups with a mission to assess the political situation and to conduct talks with all relevant forces. From July 16 to 21, the group held meetings with a broad range of representatives of Nepali society, including the Deputy Prime Minister, numerous members of the government and of the restored House of Representatives, leaders of the Seven Party Alliance, officials from the Peace Secretariat and of the Election Commission, representatives of the business community and of Bhutanese and Tibetan refugees, the media, human rights organizations, NGOs, the diplomatic corps and UN agencies.
First and foremost, the Members of the European Parliament were impressed by the strength of the popular and peaceful movement that led to a return to parliamentary democracy and by the profound desire for democracy among all those they met. The European Parliament also vvishes to convey its deepest sympathy to the families of those who have lost their lives during the protests.
The leader of the delegation emphasized that the European Parliament was here to express its support to the peace process and its appreciation of the measures already taken by the Government to repeal a number of controversial royal ordinances curbing press freedom and controlling non-governmental organisations. "Greal efforts have heen made hy the Nepali government, the trend is positive and there is potential for more ". We remain however concerned by a number of major issues which need to be addressed urgently to answer the rightful expectations of the Nepali population.
A ceasefire agreement should be signed between the Government and the CPN(Maoists) to confirm the end of the conflict which has already claimed too many lives. The issue of arms decommissioning and of demobilisation of combatants, crucial for free and fair elections, is a priority : "No political par v can go 10 elections with a gun on his shoulder ". In this respect the European Parliament fully supports the request made by all parties involved to the UN for assistance in monitoring arn1Smanagement and human rights, reiterates its support for the UN Office of Human Rights in Nepal, and welcomes the atTival of a UN assessment team next week. It also hopes that elections to the constituent assembly will take place at an early stage and is wi !ling to assist in election monitoring if asked to do so by the Government. The European Parliament takes good note of the willingness of the Maoists to return to the political mainstream and of their commitment through the 12-point agreement signed in November 2005 with the Seven-Party Alliance to commit themselves to democratic values, multipartism, civil liberties, human rights and the rule of law. The CPN(M) should now add action to its words and fully renounce violence, stop extortion of money and abductions, enrolment of child soldiers and start disarmament.
The members of the Delegation expressed their concerns on human rights and particularly on past violations of human rights during the people’s movement. They believe that justice must be rendered and urge the Government and particularly the High Level Probe Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of the April events but also of the massive violations of human rights perpetrated by all sides in the last years. They welcome the Government’s inclusive agenda concerning the rights of women, ethnic minorities and dalits.
The members of the Delegation congratulate the Government for a pro-poor state budget for the fiscal year 2006-2007. They consider tourism as a key sector for economic growth that will benefit from the return to peace. They urge the international community and particularly the European Union, to financially assist Nepal in its development needs. They would like to see the launching of grass-root projects with a quick impact on the living conditions of the poor, marginalised groups of the society and internally displaced persons with a special emphasis on remote rural areas. They support the important role played by local and international NGOs in development.
The other major issues raised by the delegation included the fate of the more than 100 000 Bhutanese refugees who live in camps since 1991 and the problems faced by the Tibetan refugees. Members called for immediate action, at both domestic and international levels on those issues and are prepared to take up the concerns of those people to the appropriate levels. In conclusion, the leader of the delegation expressed satisfaction with the current peace process while encouraging all sides to quickly implement their agreements and decisions on the ground for the benefit of the Nepali population.
The European Parliament will monitor the situation very closely. In particular, it will organize regular hearings to see what progress is being made. Kathmandu, 21/07/2006