Nepal high court orders government to finish new constitution

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Nepal [official website, in Nepali] on Thursday ordered the government to complete the final draft of the nation's new constitution by Sunday. The current administration had requested a three-month extension of the deadline, but the court denied the plea. The Constituent Assembly of Nepal (CA) [official website], the group tasked with creating the document, was elected to a two-year term in 2008, but the term has already been extended four times [AP report]. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon [official website] called on the CA [press release] and other parties involved to "make urgent efforts to preserve the constitution-making process and the gains they have made thus far." Ban also expressed concern that the CAs term could end before the final draft is adopted. It is unlikely that the administration will finish the constitution by the Sunday deadline.

In addition to drafting a new constitution, the CA has recently struggled to resolve other human rights issues in Nepal. In April UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang [official profile] spoke [JURIST report] to the CA about several human rights issues in the country, including a reluctance to prosecute war crimes and insufficient progress increasing women's rights [texts, PDF]. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Human Rights Watch [JURIST reports] have both previously appealed to the government of Nepal [BBC backgrounder] to investigate human rights violations allegedly committed during the civil war. The decade-long Maoist guerrilla insurgency that left more than 13,000 people dead ended [JURIST report] in late 2006 when the Napalese government signed a peace agreement that established the CA. In November the CA announced it would finish drafting a new constitution [JURIST report] within 18 months. Last May the CA voted to abolish the monarchy [JURIST report], giving King Gyanendera 15 days to abandon his royal palace, which cleared the way for Maoists to serve in government. As part of the peace accord, the CA was elected [JURIST report] in April 2008, an organization dominated by members of the Communist Party of Nepal- Maoists (CPN-M) [party website].

 

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