New York University seeks protection to Dalits in Nepal

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New York, Apr 22 (UNI) The new Constitution of Nepal must recognise and protect the Fundamental Human Rights of Dalits, urged a new report released today by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law.

The report was released close on the heels of Nepal's historic Constituent Assembly elections held on April 10.

The 89-page report, Recasting Justice: Securing Dalit Rights in Nepal's New Constitution, analyzed the interim statute to inform how the new constitution may be drafted in accordance with the country's international human rights obligations to secure the rights of Dalits, a group which has faced more than 2000 years of systemic discrimination on the basis of caste.

As Nepal prepares its new constitution after years of prolonged civil war, the report provided Nepalese lawmakers with tangible means to demonstrate the country's commitment to the inherent dignity and human rights of all individuals.

"The caste system is an affront to human dignity and inimical to the right to equality under international law," Smita Narula, faculty director at the center, said. She conducted research on the issue of caste discrimination in South Asia.

"Nepal's new constitution must strike at the heart of this inhumane system, or risk perpetuating the very injustices that fueled its conflicts of the past," she added.

The report was produced in close cooperation with Dalit advocates and members of the legal community in Nepal and drew on the expertise of Nepalese academics and international constitutional scholars. In November 2007, the center also conducted extensive in-country interviews with Dalit rights advocates, members of the Nepalese legal community and representatives of international organisations.

The report included detailed information on human rights abuses against Dalits in Nepal and builds on both center's expertise on caste discrimination and international human rights law.

The report's findings and recommendations have been endorsed by the International Dalit Solidarity Network, a non-governmental organization based out of Copenhagen which brings together national solidarity networks and Dalit NGO platforms from around the world.

UNI XC NC KN0900

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