Amid growing concerns over the government overstepping its jurisdiction, the Asian Human Rights Commission has objected to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s “summons” to the office bearers of the National Human Rights Commission.
On Sunday, PM Oli had summoned NHRC Chair Anup Raj Sharma and other commissioners to seek clarification on its statement during the Universal Periodic Review session in Geneva in mid-March, in which the commission raised the issues of citizenship, fundamental rights and the use of excessive force by the state.
During the meeting, PM Oli had directed his questions at Commissioner Mohna Ansari, who had spoken on behalf of the NHRC in the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council.
“When the NHRC members are called by the Prime Minister’s Office for questioning and clarification over its independent activities, it is an absolute breach of jurisdiction as provided by the constitution,” reads the statement. “It is also in contravention of the Paris Principles on National Human Rights Institutions.”
The NHRC is a constitutional body, to which the constitution also has guaranteed its autonomy and independence to oversee the human rights issues, and recommend action against rights violators. Rights defenders and lawyers have criticised PM Oli for flouting the constitutional provision by seeking clarification over the statement, which the NHRC has claimed to have prepared based on its field reports as well as those prepared by civil society organisations.
The Hong Kong-based rights organisation argues that the government’s interference in the constitutional rights body will raise questions about its autonomy.