Nepal was elected to the UN Human Rights Council on 16 October. This is an important opportunity for Nepal to demonstrate its commitment to fundamental freedoms and human rights in Nepal.
Since then, on 26 October, I led a debate in the House of Commons on freedom of religion and belief, during which human rights in Nepal were raised. I subsequently wrote to the Prime Minister of Nepal expressing concerns over the recently passed Criminal Code. I have also raised this matter with the Nepali Ambassador in London, and our Ambassador in Nepal discussed this in early October with the Nepali Prime Minister. There are many positive elements in the Code, including criminalising torture, enforced disappearances, forced labour and slavery. However, some wording could be open to misinterpretation and potentially prevent legitimate expression of religion or belief for fear of prosecution. Both I and the British Embassy in Kathmandu have urged the Government of Nepal to ensure the final implementation of the Code does not curtail freedom of religious belief, and meets Nepal's international human rights obligations and international standards.