Human Rights Watch urges immediate action on human rights issues in Bhutan

KATHMANDU: Human Rights Watch has raised alarm bells over critical human rights challenges in Bhutan, urging swift action from the government. The global non-governmental organization highlighted concerns ranging from basic needs to the treatment of political prisoners.

In a recent statement, Human Rights Watch expressed deep concern over the pressing human rights issues facing Bhutan. The organization emphasized the need for urgent action from the government, pointing to the challenges outlined during Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay’s election campaign.

During the campaign, Prime Minister Tobgay acknowledged the struggles faced by a significant portion of the Bhutanese population, approximately one in eight, in meeting their basic needs for food.

The government’s commitment to addressing these challenges was commended by Human Rights Watch, which now calls for concrete measures to ensure access to quality public services, health, and education. The organization also stressed the importance of implementing social security programs to guarantee an adequate standard of living for all Bhutanese citizens.

Of particular concern is the treatment of individuals labeled as “anti-national,” “rajbandi,” or “political” prisoners within Bhutanese jails. Human Rights Watch’s research identified at least 36 people convicted of political offenses following unfair trials that frequently relied on confessions coerced under torture. Many are serving life sentences without parole and are denied contact with their families, violating international standards.

The conditions in which these prisoners are held have reportedly worsened in recent years. Food rations have been reduced, and prisoners are allegedly forced to sell a portion of their food to buy essential items like medicine and clothes, which authorities do not provide.

In addition, prisoners face inadequate means to stay warm, including insufficient bedding. Concerns have been raised about the health of several prisoners, allegedly resulting from mistreatment during detention.

Human Rights Watch pointed out that the Royal Bhutan Government has granted amnesty to political prisoners in the past, including instances in 1999 and 2022. The organization urged the current government to uphold Bhutan’s global reputation for enlightened values and the pursuit of gross national happiness.

They called for immediate action to end the suffering of political prisoners and their families, emphasizing the need for their release.

The global organization’s plea comes amidst growing international attention on Bhutan’s human rights situation, urging the government to address these issues promptly and uphold its commitment to human rights and the well-being of its citizens.

Fiscal Nepal |
Wednesday January 31, 2024, 11:43:51 AM |

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