Since the dismissal by HM King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev of Nepal of his Government, on 1 February 2005, civil liberties and fundamental workers rights of leaders and members of Nepalese trade unions, together with a large number of other independent organisations, have been suspended as part of a series of anti-democratic measures.
Scores of trade unionists, journalists, political leaders and democracy
activists have been arrested to date, some of who are known to be in poor
health, while many others live in fear of being arrested. In spite of repeated
personal interventions by the Director-General at the highest possible level of
the State, several trade union leaders remain in jail at present, with the
prospect of spending many more months in detention. They include:
Teachers’ Association (NNTA)
Trade union activities have been severely limited, with any union meetings
requiring prior authorisation from public officials, which is contrary to
fundamental ILO standards. Trade union offices and private houses of trade union
leaders and activists have been searched, documents and other trade union
materials confiscated and trade union gatherings – including, especially,
a joint union rally on International Women’s’ Day (8th
March 2005) – have been forbidden or severely disrupted.
The Workers’ Group of the ILO Governing Body notes that many
governments have already taken steps, including measures affecting international
cooperation assistance, in order to persuade Nepal’s authorities to
restore unrestricted civilian rule in the country and lift all measures
affecting the free exercise of all human rights.
The Workers’ Group of the Governing Body urges Nepal’s
authorities to take immediate and necessary measures to protect the leaders of
the Nepalese trade unions and all other sectors of civil society from being
arrested or put under house arrest, to release immediately and unconditionally
all above-mentioned trade union leaders and officials as well as other
unionists, journalists, human rights’ advocates and other individuals who
have been arbitrarily detained so far . It further urges the Government to avoid
any further violation of human and trade union rights.
The Workers’ Group of the Governing Body expresses the firm opinion
that the suspension of democracy and the violation of fundamental trade union
and other human rights are not conducive to solving Nepal’s problems. What
the country urgently needs at present is a concerted effort to bring all
constitutional forces together and develop a comprehensive set of
constitutional, social and economic reforms. Failure to do so will only
perpetuate a climate of fear, which is counterproductive for any country that is
in urgent need of a stable political and economic environment.
Geneva, 22 March 2005