NEPAL: Maligning campaign against Ms. Mohna Ansari, Member, NHRC and our request for prompt action

15 November 2017

Mr. Anup Raj Sharma

Honourable Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
Pulchowk, Lalitpur

Fax: +977 1 55 47973
Tel: +977 1 5010015

Dear Mr. Anup Raj Sharma,

Re: Maligning campaign against Ms. Mohna Ansari, Member, NHRC and our request for prompt action

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to you to draw your immediate attention towards the highly defamatory and false article published against Ms. Mohna Ansari, a member of the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal. The AHRC is informed that Mr. Kosh Raj Neupane, a former employee of NHRC, has authored this defamatory article with false accusations and the same is published through an online news portal Sajilo Khabar operating from Jhapa district of Nepal.

We wish to recall that Kosh Raj is under investigation by the NHRC for his alleged involvement in financial irregularities while he was serving in the capacity of Regional Coordinator of NHRC in Biratnagar. We are aware that Kosh Raj has resigned from his position fearing prosecution.

We also understand that the defamatory article published by Kosh Raj is in reference to a video documentary made by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Nepal. We are aware that this documentary is not a project of the NHRC.

It was the decision of the producer of the said documentary to feature in it persons including Mohna Ansari. We understand that the documentary is published by the SDC with the title: “Contribution to Human Rights in Nepal,’ as shown in the original documentary uploaded by SDC.

Since this documentary has been published, we have been informed that a maligning campaign against Mohna Ansari namely “Protect National Human Rights Commission” has started. We have been informed that former staff members of the NHRC have distributed pamphlets to human rights defenders who had gathered from 70 districts of Nepal in Kathmandu, to attend the Second National Human Rights Defenders Conference organized by NHRC on 12-13 November, at Staff College, Lalitpur, Nepal. The pamphlets falsely accuse Mohna Ansari of having undermined the mandate of the NHRC.

The AHRC is also aware that the defamatory article published by Kosh Raj is being shared in online forums and through social media. It is alarming to note that some of them who have shared this article, have included further false accusations against Mohna Ansari. They have resorted to the despicable references to caste, religion, and ethnicity. They have falsely accused Mohna Ansari that she has placed her private interests ahead of the national interest, at work, and have also accused her of overtly pleasing donors than discharging her mandate independently.

The AHRC is of the opinion that Commissioner Ms. Mohna Ansari has undertaken a commendable job as a member of the NHRC and has best represented the institution in Nepal and abroad. The AHRC, therefore, believes that current campaign against Mohna Ansari is aimed to put down emerging civil rights activists, who are from the marginalized communities and those who might have publically expressed opinions that may not be pleasing to the incumbent national government and its proponents even within the civil society of Nepal.

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.

We, therefore, request the NHRC to undertake an immediate and impartial investigation into this matter, and if the allegations against Mohna Ansari are found to be false and are published with a view to malign the Commissioner, the authors of the article and those behind the maligning campaign to publicly tender unconditional apology to Mohna Ansari and to the civil rights movement in Nepal.

We also request your kind office to ensure a completion to the ongoing investigation against Kosh Raj and that exemplary action taken if Kosh Raj is found to be guilty.

Yours Sincerely,

Bijo Francis
Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-OLT-005-2017
Countries : Nepal,
Issues : Administration of justice, Democracy, Freedom of expression, Human rights defenders, Rule of law,