Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Nepal to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Nepal's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The United States pursues three priorities to assist in building and sustaining a democratic, well-governed state: consolidation of gains in the peace process, promotion of security sector reform and the rule of law, and strengthening democratic institutions. As part of these priorities, the U.S. Government encourages the Nepali government to undertake necessary reforms to democratize its security forces, create a judicial system with adequate oversight and accountability, and include traditionally marginalized populations in the political process. The United States works with the government of Nepal and its security forces, other members of the international community, the media, civil society, trade unions, and political parties to urge all actors to remain engaged and committed to the peace process. The United States also interacts with key leaders of the Madhesis and other disadvantaged groups.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic Governance

U.S. officials talk regularly with the country's political leaders, government officials, and civil society leaders to reiterate the importance of the continuing peace process and political transition. Senior U.S. officials, including the ambassador, urge the government to maintain its commitment to democratic transition, a civilian-controlled military, and holding past and present human rights abusers accountable. In the past year the United States issued statements calling for the continued consolidation of democracy and promulgation of a new constitution, criticizing arrests of refugees, and condemning assaults on the press. U.S. officials consistently voice concern about the continued use of violence by the Maoists and other groups, condemn violent clashes by ethnic minority groups, urge the government to enforce law and order, and advocate for treatment of Tibetans and other refugees consistent with international humanitarian standards. U.S. officials speak to students regularly at local schools and universities about issues such as discrimination, democracy, and freedom of the press. Through the International Visitors Leadership Program, promising leaders travel to the United States to learn about human rights, grassroots democracy, the U.S. election process and judicial system, the role of the media, and combating trafficking in persons. The U.S. Government encourages participation in university-level studies in the United States. The American Library, which averages 80 to 100 visitors per day, provides information for all age groups about democracy, rule of law, and minority rights.

In 2010 the United States provided technical assistance to the Election Commission in areas of electoral legal reform and voter registration, two important priorities in the Commission's strategic plan. The U.S. Government trained 82 district election officers on electoral administration and voter registration, and 63 Constituent Assembly (CA) members, political party leaders, and opinion leaders on electoral systems and quotas. Additionally, the U.S. Government helped the Commission launch a major overhaul of the current voter registration system, making it more sustainable and accurate. The United States provides legal and technical assistance as well as in-kind support for the constitution-drafting process, supports training of female political party and civil society leaders to hone their leadership and representation skills, and encourages youth engagement in the political process at both the grassroots and national levels. U.S. assistance to the CA includes creation of a media resource center, a press conference hall, and an internal broadcasting system; the U.S. Government also helped radio stations across the country produce call-in programs for CA members to interact with the public. U.S.-supported programs also assist the government, political parties, and civil society to form local peace committees to discuss the peace process and diffuse conflicts. Other U.S.-supported grassroots civil society programs provide training to individuals on good governance, livelihood improvement, and policy advocacy. One such program empowers women by teaching them to read, assisting them to start small businesses, and helping them to increase their household incomes. In 2010 the U.S. Government sent nine influential local journalists to the United States for academic training in the principles and practices of journalism.

The United States helps to build the capacity of the judiciary by improving the transparency and credibility of the Supreme Court and selected appellate and district courts. U.S.-funded court-referred centers promote mediation as an alternative means of dispute resolution. U.S. assistance contributes to training judges in case management, training attorneys in court mediation, and in some districts providing legal aid for women, children, and the disadvantaged. To promote security sector reform and human rights, the United States organizes and funds workshops on democratic control of the security forces, national security strategy development, and security sector legal reforms. Participants from different sectors of government, security forces, and civil society attend these workshops. The United States sponsors soldiers to attend military education and training programs, many of which include instruction on respect for human rights.

Other programming targets traditionally vulnerable populations. For example, the U.S. Government works with partners to combat human trafficking and gender-based violence, and it sponsors programs to raise awareness of these issues. U.S.-funded programs reach out to survivors and potential victims of trafficking with informal education, vocational training, and information about safe migration. The United States continues to support programs to combat exploitive child labor, with a particular emphasis on eliminating the worst forms of child labor. Through contributions to implementing partners, the United States helps remove children from exploitive child labor, and prevents others from being recruited, by providing educational opportunities.

Through contributions to the UNHCR and other partners, the United States assists approximately 80,000 Bhutanese refugees in the country. Working with the UNHCR and other governments, the United States continues large-scale third-country resettlement for the Bhutanese refugees who have been living in camps in the southeastern part of the country for almost two decades; approximately 12,500 will travel to the United States in 2010.


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