ABA ROLI Strengthens Ties with Nepalese Lawyers, Advocates

ABA Commission on Domestic Violence Director Robin Runge exchanges views with China’s Supreme People’s Court Vice President Wan Exiang on the role of the bar in working with judges and courts to promote reform addressing gender bias in the law during a meeting at the Court on July 24, 2007, in Beijing.
Mr. Indra Prasad Lohani (center) examines the plight of the Maoists after their break from the seven-party coalition in September. (Not pictured: Mr. Shree Krishna Bhattarai, Under Secretary of the Nepal Supreme Court)

During a recent trip to Washington, D.C., a group of Nepalese law professors and advocates met with representatives of ABA ROLI’s Asia Division.  They came to discuss a critical and increasingly challenging moment for Nepal’s future—the election for the committee to rewrite Nepals’s constitution.

“Every community is demanding their rights,” Mr. Lohani, Secretary General of the Supreme Court Bar Association, explained, “and the government is just overwhelmed.”

His colleague Mr. Paudel from the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, added, “We are trying hard to convince the Maoists that they should [cooperate] in the elections process.”

The Nepalese delegation met with ABA ROLI staff as part of their three-week program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State introducing them to the American judicial system, the U.S. constitution, and the rule of law in a democratic society. The group traveled to various regions with different ethnic populations to discuss paths toward egalitarian judicial systems in their own country.

Their trip also included discussions about gender issues.  Sneha Barot, Acting Director of the Asia Division, shared her past experience as a women’s rights lawyer with Professors Dhami and Bhetuwal, both of whom teach feminist jurisprudence at Kathmandu School of Law. The trio recognized a significant opportunity to work on gender issues in Nepal, where despite the existence of female suffrage, there remain few instances of women going to vote. “Is this written in the law? No. But it’s in the society,” Bhetuwal commented.

Mr. Lohani, who also hosts an influential political affairs television show on Nepal’s Kantipur Television, was very grateful for the chance to meet.  “We have a long, long way to go with American Bar Association,” Lohani stated.  “This is only the beginning.”

The Rule of Law Initiative has a civic education project in Nepal titled “Building Grassroots Support for Democratic and Legal Reform in Nepal.”  This project aims to foster the development of the rule of law in Nepal through increased public support of the reform and peace process. For more information, click here or contact Stephanie Le <les@staff.abanet.org>, Program and Finance Associate for Cambodia, Nepal and Vietnam.