22nd Feb 2018

Refugee Protection and Legal Aid

Nepal has been providing asylum on humanitarian grounds to persons who seek refuge since immemorial times. This practice has been based on humanitarian grounds and on Nepal’s traditions of respect for human rights. However, Nepal despite these strong humanitarian and Human Rights traditions still lacks a solid protection mechanism such as refugee policy and legal framework. Refugees and asylums seekers who flee their country of origin or permanent residence because of threat to their life, liberty need to be provided protection according to the universally accepted human rights norms and principles. Refugees hold the right of not being expelled from the country of asylum to a country where they would face serious threats to their life or freedom, which is also called the principle of non-refoulement. It is considered as part of customary international law, widely practiced by the civilized nations of the world.

Although, Nepal has expressed its commitment towards respecting human rights by ratifying and acceding to many key international human rights instruments. The human rights situation of refugees in Nepal remains unsatisfactory. Human rights mean the rights of all persons regardless of their nationality, race, religion, political opinion or membership to a particular social group. This also includes rights of refugees. Currently, Nepal has been providing shelter to thousands of refugees and asylum seekers from different countries of the world. Bhutanese and Tibetans are the major refugee groups living in Nepal. There are also other asylum seekers and refugee groups who live in various urban centers in Nepal (mainly Kathmandu and around the Kathmandu valley).

PPR Nepal has been advocating for the protection and promotion of refugee rights in Nepal for many years. Providing free legal aid service and psycho-social counseling are some specific areas of concern and priority of PPR Nepal. More importantly it has played a significant role in creating RefWAN and RefLAN. PPR Nepal has also contributed to the development of the model refugee legislation in Nepal and has been one of the active NGOs advocating for the enactment of refugee law. It is also a member of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) working for the protection and promotion of refugee rights and protection in the Asia Pacific region.

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