Nepali CSOs concerned by unnecessary legislative amendments
New laws proposed by the government are raising concerns within Nepalese civil society. In September 2016, the Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare posted online the draft Social Welfare and Development Act and called for public feedback. While this consultative approach was welcomed by civil society groups, critics fear that provisions in the draft the law could have the effect of distancing Nepali civil society from international development cooperation and that it would grant the authorities too much power to interfere with the activities of civic groups. In a recent statement, Chairman of Nepal's NGO Federation, Gopal Lamsal commented on the proposal, by saying:
'[The] Inclusion of the provision to scrap the registration of any NGO will go against the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.'
As we've previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor and according to local partners in Nepal, there is a growing hostility from Nepalese authorities towards certain sections of civil society. In particular he use of the Chief of Commission for Investigation and Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to investigate CSOs over dubious allegations has been viewed by many as an indication of the authorities' growing mistrust of civil society.
On 4th November, protests from a Maoist faction imposed a nationwide strike aimed at drawing the government's attention to concerns over food security and the rising cost of essential goods. The strike turned violent after demonstrators vandalised vehicles and shops. A large contingent of Nepalese security forces was present, as police arrested at least 100 participants. November 2016 marked a decade since the end of the Maoist civil war, a conflict that claimed the lives of an estimated 16,000 people.
Protests against proposals to separate some hill districts from Terai (plains) in western and midwestern Nepal took place in December. On 1st December, activists from Rolpa and Pyuthan took to the streets in a bid to intercept the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister who were on their way from Rolpa to Kathmandu. Locals wanted to draw attention to the 'impractical' proposals and voice their opposition to the plans.
Tensions reached boiling point on 15th December, when protesters shut down Pyuthan and Rolpa for four days. Despite the wave of citizen action, there are no reports of the protests turning violent.