Civil society groups condemn malicious slander against prominent WHRD in Nepal

Association

As previously covered on the CIVICUS Monitor, women human rights defenders (WHRD) in Nepal can face malicious and manifold threats when conducting their work. In another recent example, Ms. Mohna Ansari, a prominent member of the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (NHRC), has been subjected to a storm of abuse after her colleague penned a defamatory article about her in a national newspaper. On 11th November 2017, Kosh Raj a former staffer published a piece in Sajilo Khabar, drawing attention to a video about Ansari produced by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Nepal. Reports note that the video is not a project of NHRC. 

It is alarming to note that some who have shared this article included further false accusations against Ansari. They have falsely accused Ansari of placing her private interests ahead of the national interest and have also accused her of overtly pleasing donors instead of independently discharging her mandate. CIVICUS Monitor research partner, the Asian Human Rights Commission commented on the worrying situation, stating that

"We also view this maligning campaign against Mohna Ansari as an attempt by some of the old guards of the civil society movement in Nepal, who have lost their relevance and interest in augmenting the human rights movement in the country. It is public knowledge that some of these former patrons have aligned themselves with the incumbent government, and with the upcoming elections, their unofficial position in power could be fortified. We are worried that such a scenario could sound the death knell to emerging civil rights activists, particularly women and those from the minority communities in the country".

At least four former staff members of the NHRC distributed separate defamatory pamphlets to human rights defenders, who had gathered from 70 districts of Nepal in Kathmandu to attend the Second National Human Rights Defenders Conference organised by NHRC on 12-13th November 2017, at Staff College, Lalitpur, Nepal. The pamphlets, like the newspaper article, falsely accuse Ansari of having undermined the mandate of the NHRC. In light of the campaign to defame the WHRD, a number of CSOs have expressed solidarity with the embattled activist and called upon the NHRC to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into any alleged wrongdoing.