Bhutan is to present its first human rights report to the Universal Periodic Report Review Committee of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today at 1400 hours local time.
Bhutan has made a modest effort to present itself as clean in rights abuses, activists say, but gross human rights violations continue today.
Abuses include the eviction of over 100,000 citizens and other 80,000 restricted from exercising their voting rights during the first general elections,
To draw the attention of the international community to the previous and ongoing human rights violations in Bhutan, and to denounce the fabricated human rights report presented by Bhutan to the HRC, rights activists have published a new report. The report documents rights violations since 1990 and particularly since the so called democratic changes.
Written by I. P. Adhikari, president of the Association of Press Freedom Activists (APFA) Bhutan, and Raju Thapa, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, Nepal, the book provides vivid glimpse of the gross human rights violations in a country where “gross national happiness” is supposedly the guiding principle.
The book, entitled ‘Human Rights and Justice in Bhutan’, covers incidents beginning with the 1990s suppression, followed by the political changes and actions thereafter.
The book counters the claims made by the Royal Government of Bhutan in its report prepared for the Human Rights Commission. Substantive details of human rights violations are included, plus state failure to adhere by its legal obligation to protect the rights of its citizens.
Some noted instances of human rights violations include delay in repatriation Bhutanese refugees, restricting voting rights to it’s 80,000-strong Nepali-speaking population still living in the country as well as to thousands of monks. The government has also failed to set up human rights mechanisms, there is an absence of any human rights organizations in the field, denial of the right to education to thousands of children because parents failed to present a no objection certificate.
There is discrimination in providing security clearances that are vital to obtain a business license and other government facilities. The state failed to register the birth of children born after 1990, even though Bhutan ratified the CRC in 1991.
Although Bhutan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1981, discrimination against women continues today.
The journalists’ Shadow Report shows that Bhutan’s first human rights report is a sham.