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Nepal 2023

Security forces continued to use unnecessary and excessive force to disperse and detain protesters, resulting in four deaths. Authorities banned TikTok and carried out arrests to limit freedom of expression. The government failed to deliver justice, truth and reparations to victims of the 1996-2006 conflict. Torture and other ill-treatment by security forces was reported and authorities failed to carry out credible and independent investigations into deaths in custody. Gender-based discrimination continued in law and practice. The marriage of an LGBTI couple was registered for the first time. Migrant workers were subjected to abusive and illegal recruitment practices.

Freedom of expression and assembly

Security forces continued to detain activists and individuals criticizing the government and ruling party politicians, and frequently resorted to unlawful force against protesters.

In February, five protesters demanding justice for sexual violence cases were detained by police. In March, Padam Limbu died after being hit during a baton charge by police at a protest by Indigenous Peoples in Morang district. The government later declared him “a martyr”, pledging relief support to his family.

The authorities continued to crack down on protests by victims of loan sharks, mostly low-income farmers who gathered in the capital, Kathmandu, calling for justice for financial crimes. In April, at least 40 protesters were injured by police using batons and water cannons and at least 20 were detained. Days later, the Home Minister apologized for the excessive use of force by police.

In May, police detained and ill-treated two journalists in Kanchanpur district who had been reporting on a clash involving police. Following condemnation by the journalists’ federation, the district police chief committed to punish the officers responsible.

In June, police detained at least 16 activists in Kathmandu protesting against corruption related to government officials allegedly collecting money from hundreds of Nepali nationals with the promise of Bhutanese refugee status and resettlement in high income countries.

In August, police used unnecessary force against Indigenous Peoples protesters, many of whom were detained and assaulted. The Prime Minister announced that those responsible would be punished but no charges were filed by the end of the year.

In November, the government banned the TikTok app to “protect social harmony and family unity”.

In December, one protester was shot dead in Bara district and two protesters died due to excessive force by police in Lalitpur district.

Right to truth, justice and reparation

The government again failed to make significant progress towards delivering truth, justice and reparations to the tens of thousands of victims of crimes under international law and other grave human rights violations committed by both sides during the 1996-2006 conflict. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons, which had respectively collected more than 60,000 and 3,000 complaints from victims, failed to resolve a single case in 2023. In March, the government presented to parliament a Bill for the Amendment of the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act (2014) without adequately consulting conflict victims. The Bill failed to comply with a 2015 Supreme Court ruling to bring it in line with domestic and international human rights standards and appeared to shield alleged perpetrators from prosecution for some crimes under international law.1 At the end of the year, the Bill remained pending at the lower house.

Amid widespread concerns about government misuse of amnesty provisions to arbitrarily release ruling party affiliates, in November the Supreme Court overturned a Presidential amnesty to a man convicted of murder, ruling the necessity of consent by victims’ families.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Reports continued of torture and other ill-treatment of pretrial detainees with impunity. By the end of the year, there were no convictions under the 2017 Criminal Code, which criminalized the practice. In addition, the authorities failed to investigate and publicize reports of investigations into past custodial deaths alleged to have resulted from torture.

In January, three women were beaten by government forest guards for entering a forest to collect grass in Bara district; police refused to lodge complaints against the guards. In July, human rights defender Manohar Kumar Pokharel was assaulted at the District Police Office in Saptari district when visiting a detainee. In August, two prisoners died from alleged torture by police officers guarding them in Sankhuwasabha prison. The Sankhuwasabha District Court remanded seven police officers and eight prisoners in the prison while they were on trial for offences relating to the two prisoners’ deaths. 


Gender-based discrimination continued in law and practice. In May, the President authenticated the Nepal Citizenship (First Amendment) Bill which denied women equal citizenship rights. In a positive move for Muslim women, in September, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the practice of “triple talaq”, Islamic instant divorce.

In June, the Supreme Court issued an interim order to the government to register same-sex marriages with “temporary documentation,” pending its final verdict. However, same-sex couples continued to face barriers in practice as lower courts refused to register marriages, citing a lack of enabling legislation. In November authorities in Lamjung district registered a marriage between Nepalis of the same legal gender for the first time.

Despite provisions in law and policy to address discrimination based on caste, numerous incidents of discrimination against members of the Dalit community were reported, including by elected officials, with impunity. In December the West Rukum District Court convicted 26 people for the killing of six men because of the relationship of one of them with a girl from a dominant caste.2

Economic, social and cultural rights

Hundreds of families living in informal settlements across the country remained at risk of forced eviction by local authorities without legal safeguards. In March, the Kathmandu Metropolitan Office issued a directive to people living in slums and informal settlements along the riverbanks in Kathmandu to vacate the areas within a week. The Patan High Court suspended the demolition order and ordered the government, including the Metropolitan Office, to arrange housing for those who would be made homeless as a result of the evictions.

The government failed to adequately monitor, investigate and sanction the illegal activities of recruitment agencies and agents that charge migrant workers exorbitant fees. Effective measures to prevent, investigate and clarify the deaths of migrant workers, such as through bilateral dialogues with the governments of destination countries, were not taken. Difficulties in accessing the Workers Welfare Fund left many families of deceased migrant workers without support.3

In November, an earthquake in Karnali province resulted in more than 150 deaths and damage to some 25,000 homes and other public infrastructure. The government’s relief support was inadequate, especially given the harsh winter season, and at least 24 earthquake-affected people living in makeshift tents died.

  1. Nepal: Transitional Justice Bill needs to protect victims, not abusers; proposed law disregards domestic and international legal standards, 24 March
  2. Nepal: District Court’s historic verdict a welcome step for justice for Dalit community”, 7 December
  3. Saudi Arabia: ‘Don’t worry, it’s a branch of Amazon’: Exploitation of migrant workers contracted to Amazon in Saudi Arabia, 10 October