What is your view on the MoU between the government and the OHCHR?
We look at it positively. This was a response to the pressure that was building up about the human rights situation in Nepal. In that respect this is a step forward. Now the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees will have to be the guarantor of the agreement.
What will be the mission's main activities?
The main goal is to improve the human rights situation. We have made it clear that this entails the immediate release of political prisoners and we hope to immediately find out the condition of detention of prisoners in barracks. The mission will consist of international personnel and experts and will begin its monitoring work right away.
Will the mission also look at the human rights violations that have taken place post February First?
The mission will be looking at human rights violations related to the conflict. But its mandate covers the overall human rights situation. Certainly, we believe that the preservation of human rights is more possible in a democratic society.
When will you begin the work?
How will you take your work forward?
It is important to be clear that the mission will not be superseding Nepali laws. It won't have the authority to prosecute or take anyone to court. The mission is here to make Nepali laws themselves more effective and ensure the rule of law. But it will have the mandate to investigate serious human rights violations anywhere in Nepal. Especially after 1 February we have found that the National Human Rights Commission and other groups have not been allowed to work. We hope this will now change.
There have been reports of the presence of army and police personnel in the Nepali delegation to Geneva. What is your view?
We are aware that army and police officials were here. But they couldn't play a very effective role against human rights. More than what they did in Geneva, we are interested in the security of human rights activists in Nepal. Last month, in Nepal I met the Home Minister to guarantee the safety of human rights activists. I didn't come away with credible assurances to that effect. Nepali human rights activists played a laudable role in Geneva and they are in the process of returning to Nepal. We will be monitoring their security very carefully. Their safety must be assured.
Do you think the Maoists will take an agreement between you and the government seriously?
This is a big challenge and a test for them. After all, they have been calling for UN mediation. If the Maoists don't cooperate, it will cast doubt on their credibility. We hope that the Maoists will help in the investigation of human rights violations just as the army and the security forces who are bound by this agreement.
How sure were you that the MoU would be signed?
The government waited till the last moment. It came only after Item 9 resolution was about to be tabled. But at a time when there were widespread reports of human rights violations by both sides, it was the government's duty to address the problem.