Association

The freedom to form associations, including trade unions, is recognised in the Citizens Rights Act of 1955 and Article 17 of the 2015 Constitution, with restrictions on grounds such as national security, sovereignty, public morality and harmony. CSO registration is mandatory under the 1977 Association Registration Act; registration must be renewed annually, and an annual report made. CSOs assess the process of compliance to be burdensome, compared to regulations for private companies, while the relevant authorities lack capacity and the grounds on which registrations can be rejected are vague, giving scope for officials to act arbitrarily. A Bill on Association and Organization, proposed in 2014, would tighten CSO registration and reporting requirements. The 2014 Development Cooperation Policy requires CSOs to align development projects with national development priorities and coordinate with the relevant ministry, impinging on the autonomy of CSOs. In addition, CSOs must be affiliated to the Social Welfare Council in order to receive international funding, something on which many CSOs rely. Under the draft Social Welfare and Development Act, Nepalese CSOs would be required to obtain prior government approval to cooperate with international CSOs, while the Social Welfare Council would be given powers to determine the priority areas of CSOs. A prominent LGBTI network has been subject to regulatory harassment, media vilification and arbitrary arrest, and CSOs defending the rights of Tibetan refugees and seeking accountability over abuses committed during the 1996 to 2006 conflict have also been attacked.