Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1989

The King is the sole source of authority for all government
institutions in Nepal, the world's only Hindu Kingdom.
Although traditional and constitutional restraints limit the
King's powers, he rules as well as reigns. Political parties
are formally banned but are permitted to function more or less
openly. However, elections are officially contested on an
individual basis. The National Panchayat (legislature)
consists of 112 representatives elected directly on the basis
of universal adult suffrage and 28 representatives appointed
by the King. Legislation passed by the National Panchayat
must have the King's approval to become law. The Supreme
Court can invalidate laws which it finds to be inconsistent
with the Constitution. Officially, the National Panchayat
selects the Prime Minister from its ranks; in practice, he
must also be acceptable to the King. The Prime Minister
appoints the Council of Ministers (cabinet), which is
answerable both to the National Panchayat and to the King.
The Council manages day-to-day government operations and
advises the King.
Internal security in Nepal is maintained by the national
police and, as necessary, by the army. Because communication
links in Nepal are limited, local officials have a great deal
of autonomy and exercise wide discretion in handling law and
order issues.
Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries. Over 90
percent of its 18 million people are engaged in subsistence
agriculture. Economic development varies widely: the
Kathmandu valley and the Terai (the lowland area adjacent to
India) are being developed more rapidly, but population
pressures and environmental degradation in the hills between
the Terai in the south and the Himalaya mountain range in the
north keep the hills the poorest region of the country.
Human rights in Nepal remain seriously restricted. Reports of
beatings and other mistreatment of prisoners continue to be
received. Citizens do not have the right to change their
government. Their rights to the freedoms of speech and press,
assembly and association, and religion are restricted in
varying degrees, in most cases severely. Worker rights are
limited by law, and women's rights are limited by tradition
and illiteracy. Christians, including a prominent leader,
continue to be imprisoned on charges of proselytizing, and a
Christian church service in Kathmandu Valley was disrupted and
the pastor and some members of the congregation beaten and
jailed in November. There were concerns at year's end about
the status of Christians in the Kingdom as a result. Arrests
of Nepali Congress Party activists occurred periodically
(1,000 were arrested in September), primarily for protesting
Government measures regarding the dispute with India, but
almost all were promptly released, a relaxation of previous
detention policy. The Government introduced or revised
several laws to reform arrest and de ntion and registered,
reportedly for the first time, a human rights organization.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no known instances of such killings in 1989.
      b. Disappearance
There were no reports of government-instigated
disappearances. However, the Government has not yet accounted
for eight persons, arrested in the past 4 years, who
disappeared, according to local press and human rights
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
There were continuing reports of beatings and other brutal
treatment of prisoners by police officials, particularly in
the rural areas. The Human Rights Protection Forum, a private
Nepalese organization, in a bulletin issued in April, alleged
that police officials often use both psychological and
physical torture during interrogation to obtain confessions in
lieu of proper investigative techniques. The Government has
rarely conducted active investigations into allegations of
police brutality or acknowledged public concern about its
In 1989 the King approved an amendment to the Jail Act which
requires yearly inspection of local jails by the zonal
commissioner and punishment of jail authorities who keep
prisoners or detainees longer than the legally prescribed
period. The amendment did not, however, address physical
abuse of prisoners. The Civil Code does call for the
punishment of jailors who withhold food, detain people without
legal grounds, or keep detainees in handcuffs or fetters
without legal grounds.
Care of and facilities for treating the mentally ill are
inadequate; such persons are often placed in jails under
conditions that are degrading and sometimes inhumane.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Arbitrary arrests and brief detention are common. Although
exact numbers are difficult to determine, it is reliably
estimated that over 2,000 such arrests and detentions took
place in 1989. On the national level, short-term arrests and
detentions, sometimes without the issuance of any order, may
be used to suppress political opposition. On the local level,
officials have broad authority and little supervision from the
central Government. Nepalese human rights organizations
report that this often leads to abuse of power, with persons
held incommunicado in police custody for extended periods,
sometimes months.
A new Public Security Act (PSA) , approved by the King on
September 28, permits up to 18 months' detention before
charges must be filed (the 1961 Act allowed 36 months). In a
significant change from past practice, local authorities must
now present a written detention order with "grounds and
reasons" at the time of detention and must notify the district
court within 24 hours. The listed grounds for detention have
not changed from the 1961 Act and are open to broad
interpretation. A person may be detained if it is suspected
that his actions might affect: 1) the security of Nepal; 2)
order and tranquility inside Nepal; 3) amicable relations
between Nepal and other friendly states; and 4) amicable
relations among people of different classes or religions
within Nepal. Persons detained under the Act are not brought
to trial.
Critics of the new Act assert that the Government is
attempting to bring the judicial system into the executive
branch's administration of the detention process. They point
out that under the PSA the detainee still has no recourse to
legal counsel at any point in the process. There are reports
that some prisoners have been held in jail after completion of
their sentences and, in some cases, in defiance of a Supreme
Court order for their release. The new PSA provides that upon
completion of the detention period, the detainee is to be
released in the presence of the district court judge or his
deputy. Rearrest is possible for a new 18-month period.
The Public Offenses Act, aimed at limiting public protest or
demonstration, permits a district official to issue an order
for up to 6 months' detention, or a sizable fine, and was used
in April 1989 to detain several students who took part in
demonstrations. (See also Section 2.b.)
Persons detained for the expression of views critical of, or
different from, the Goveinment's may also be charged under the
Treason Act. In addition, the Government sometimes charges
persons under the Organizations and Associations (Control) Act
of 1963, which provides for the prosecution of persons who
violate the constitutional ban on political parties.
Persons are often detained without warrants and are permitted
access to a lawyer of their choosing only after they are no
longer technically in police custody, which can be up to 25
days in criminal cases. Those detained under the PSA are
presented with documentation stating they are being held under
the Act when they are imprisoned. For common crimes, the law
provides that a suspect must be brought before a court within
24 hours, and must be informed of the general grounds for the
arrest or be released. A 7-day extension may be granted for
the completion of the police investigation. The law generally
provides a person in detention with the right to a judicial
determination of the legality of the detention, but this right
is often disregarded.
There is a functioning system of bail, but bail levels were
substantially increased in 1987, making bail too expensive for
most Nepalese. Legal sources also report a growing tendency
for judges not to set bail, and many accused persons are held
throughout their trial period.
Official exile is not practiced in Nepal. With regard to
forced or compulsory labor, see Section 6.c.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for the right to a public trial except in
some security and customs cases, and the right is usually
honored. Except for those held in preventive detention, the
Constitution provides for the right to counsel and protection
from double jeopardy and retroactive application of the law.
However, these rights are not always respected.
Military and civilian courts are separate. Military courts
generally deal only with military personnel, but civilians may
also be tried in military courts for crimes involving the
military. Lower court judges are appointed by the Government
on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.
Higher court judges are appointed by the King on the
recommendation of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In
cases of terrorism or treason, the Destructive Crimes Act and
the State Offenses and Punishment Act provide for closed
trials before specially constituted tribunals.
The judiciary is legally independent but is generally not
assertive in challenging the King. Law enforcement officials
frequently ignore even writs and orders issued by the Supreme
Court, or reply that the person in question is not in their
custody. There is no mechanism for courts to follow up on
their writs and orders. All lower court decisions, including
acquittals, are subject to appeal. The Supreme Court is the
court of last appeal, but the King may grant pardons and set
aside judgments.
In its August 1989 Report, Asia Watch (AW) states that the
courts have been unable to play a significant role in the
enforcement of individual rights in Nepal. AW claims this is
due in part to the power of the King, interference by
government officials in decisions of the courts, and the
absence of job security for judges.
Estimates in 1989 of the number of political prisoners on the
basis of statistics supplied by the Forum for Protection of
Human Rights ranged from 150 to 200, a marginal decrease over
the estimates of 1988.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
While the Government generally respects the privacy of the
home and family, principles which are bolstered by Nepalese
law and tradition, there are exceptions. Search warrants
issued by Chief District Officers are required before search
and seizure but not in cases involving suspected narcotics or
security violations. The correspondence of some individuals,
both Nepalese and foreign, is opened with little attempt at
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Under the Constitution, freedom of speech and of the press may
not be exercised in support of a political party or "to the
detriment of the common good, the monarch, or members of the
royal family." In practice, this rule is widely interpreted
to permit criticism of the Governm.ent but not of the monarch
or of the royal family. In addition, provisions of The Press
and Publications Act place limits on material which might
undermine the interests or sovereignty of the nation;
contravene principles which underlie the Constitution; or
encourage, abet, or propagate party politics or party
feelings. A well-known Nepalese political and human rights
activist was arrested in May 1989 under the Treason Act after
making speeches in India regarding the Nepal/India dispute
over the conduct of their bilateral relations. He was
released on the same day after paying a small fine.
The sole radio service and the only television station in
Nepal are government controlled, and their programming
reflects the views of the Government.
The two Nepalese dailies with the largest circulation are
government organs. They carry some reports of opposition
activities and criticism of the Government. A large number of
Nepal's 400 publications (some of whose circulation is only inthe hundreds of copies) are vigorous and candid in their
criticism of the Government. However, comments deemed overly
pro-Indian in the context of the India/Nepal dispute and
allegations of serious corruption in the Government prompted
restrictions on several publications in 1989. Fourteen
journalists were reported arrested in 1989 for controversial
reporting on the India/Nepal dispute. All but two have now
been released. Legal bases cited for these arrests included
the Press and Publications Act, the Treason Act, and the PSA.
Most were released within 1 to several days of being
arrested. In August two journalists were arrested in
connection with the printing of a controversial interview with
the leader of a political party in which the Nepalese
"partyless" system was criticized.
Critics note that the Government uses its control of
advertising and newsprint to inhibit press criticism. The
Government did not close any newspapers in 1989, though
officials are known to have raided and searched some newspaper
offices. Foreign publications are seized or banned when
deemed to carry articles unfavorable to the Government or to
the monarchy. In 1989 the Government reportedly banned over
50 Indian publications. Nepalese officials withheld major
Indian publications not included in the ban but containing
objectionable articles on India/Nepal relations from
expatriate subscribers. Circulation of banned or proscribed
newspapers or articles can lead to arrest and imprisonment.
Academic freedom is limited. Professors at both of Nepal's
universities are essentially civil servants and therefore have
limited autonomy. The tenure system provides little
protection from government intrusion. Self-censorship is
practiced throughout the academic system. Academic freedom is
further restricted by censorship of books and other domestic
publications. In May the official press strongly criticized a
prominent university professor for his authorship of articles
in India which were regarded as challenging Nepalese policy
toward India.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Regulations permit local authorities to prohibit meetings,
speeches, and posters if they are found not to be "for the
convenience or good of the general public." These regulations
are frequently invoked. The law also forbids activities
detrimental to the monarchy, relations among people, or
national security. All political parties are considered
illegal under the "partyless" panchayat (council) system,
although in practice political party members are generally
permitted to assemble privately and to express their views in
the independent press.
Regulations governing political parties are interpreted
differently by local authorities in different areas of the
country, and the decision whether to permit a political
meeting is usually made on an ad hoc basis. The Organizations
and Associations (Control) Act requires that all organizations
be registered with the Government and stipulates that members
of applying organizations must receive a police report stating
that they are not "antisystem. " Approval of registration
applications can take as long as several years and is often
denied, but many groups meet without seeking approval, or even
after approval is denied. Student groups, including those
openly affiliated with the banned political parties, are
allowed to contest campus elections.
After the dispute with India began last March, the Government
usually did not impede student meetings and demonstrations
held to protest university closings and Indian policies toward
Nepal. By contrast, assembly by groups critical of the
Government is often disrupted. A total of 555 persons (mostly
students) were arrested during demonstrations sponsored by the
Democratic National Unity Forum in April and May to protest
the Government's handling of Nepal/India relations. Most of
those arrested, except for some leftist political activists,
were released promptly. While the official Nepal Labor
Organization observed May Day with functions in Kathmandu and
elsewhere without any hindrances, the police arrested about 50
members of the Nepal Independent Workers' Organization (a
"blue-collar" workers' lights group), most for "unauthorized
activities;" 28 persons were detained. In July over 1,000
people, including 300 in Kathmandu, were arrested when they
attempted to plant trees or donate blood on the anniversary of
the death of a prominent opposition leader. In September more
than 1,000 Nepali Congress Party workers were arrested during
demonstrations also protesting government handling of the
dispute. On both occasions, almost all were soon released.
For a discussion of freedom of association as it applies to
labor unions, see Section 6. a.
      c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides that "every person, having regard to
the traditions, may profess and practice his own religion as
handed down from the ancient times," and that "no persons
shall be entitled to convert another person from one religion
to another." The legal code provides a maximum penalty of 1
year in prison for any Hindu who converts to another religion
and 3 to 6 years for any person who seeks to proselytize a
Hindu. The State views the conversion of Hindus as a more
serious crime than the conversion of non-Hindus because
conversion from Hinduism is regarded as undermining the
religious and ideological underpinnings of the State.
The great majority of Nepalese are Hindus, and Nepal is
officially described as a Hindu state. There is a sizable
minority of Buddhists, a smaller number of Muslims, and a
small but growing number of Christians. Non-Hindus are
allowed to practice their religion and maintain places of
worship. Many foreign Christian clergymen reside and work in
Nepal in various fields. Religious education is offered by
non-Hindus, including Muslims and Christians. Religious
publications are imported mainly from India and are widely
The Government takes seriously the prohibition of
proselytization and conversion. According to the most recent
figures obtained from Nepalese Christian leaders, in mid-1989
there were 26 Nepalese Christians serving prison sentences of
3 months to 7 years; 80 court cases involving over 200
Christians; and 24 Christians in custody awaiting trial.
Virtually all of these cases involved charges of
proselytization. Nepalese authorities arrested Christian
pastor Charles Mendies in November after he was tried and
acquitted of proselytizing but subsequently found guilty by
the Supreme Court. He remained in prison in late December and
was awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the King. There were
other reports that on November 12 a Christian church service
in Kathmandu Valley was broken up, the pastor assaulted, and
some members of the congregation arrested. Another
well-publicized case involved an American citizen, David
McBride, and a Canadian citizen, Mervyn Budd, who were
arrested in October 1988 on the charge of proselytization.
They were tried and found not guilty by a court and released
in February 1989.
Nepalese citizens, who lack an international intercessor and
the advantage of wide international press attention, as in the
McBride-Budd case, often receive less favorable treatment.
For Indians and Nepalese arrested on charges of
proselytization, the time in police custody prior to trial may
be worse, according to some observers, than an actual jail
term, owing to the brutal treatment the detainee often
receives. Customs officials reportedly continued to impound
Bibles being brought into Nepal by travelers or returning
citizens. There were fewer attacks in the press on the spread
of Christianity.
By contrast, Muslims and Buddhists experience few difficulties,
and there are almost no cases of proselytization pending
against these two groups.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
There are no restrictions on travel within the country for
Nepalese citizens. Foreigners (including Tibetans resident in
Nepal) and journalists are restricted from traveling to
several border areas. Nepalese abroad are free to return
home. There are no known cases of revocation of citizenship
for political reasons.
Travel outside of Nepal, generally not restricted for Nepalese
citizens, is limited in the case of Tibetans who reside in
Nepal to India only, with occasional exceptions. In June
several Nepalese citizens were prevented from traveling to
North Korea for the 13th World Youth and Student Festival.
The Government objected to the North Korean Government
arranging travel documents and sponsorship without the
knowledge of the Government of Nepal. There are also reported
instances of the Government sometimes delaying or otherwise
making it more difficult for students to travel to Communist
countries either at their own expense or through host
government scholarships not administered by the Nepalese
Government. Those going to countries on host government
scholarships administered by the Government of Nepal have no
Nepal has no stated refugee policy. In the past it has
accepted and assimilated approximately 12,000 to 14,000
Tibetan refugees. However, border restrictions, tightened in
1988 by a joint Nepalese/Chinese agreement, continued to be
stringent in 1989. Some Tibetans who attempted to cross the
border into Nepal without appropriate documentation were
turned back. The United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees opened an office in Kathmandu in October 1989. The
Government is aiding its efforts by sharing lists of newly
registered refugees and asylum-seekers.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Nepalese citizens do not have the right to change their
government. Political legitimacy flows from the King, who is
revered as an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu and who
dominates the political system. The Constitution is bestowed
by the King, not adopted by the citizens of Nepal, and there
is no mechanism by which they can legally change the political
system. Many Nepalese accept the monarchy as the symbol of
Nepalese nationalism and a force which binds together the
disparate ethnic and linguistic communities of Nepal. At the
same time, there is substantial support, especially among
educated Nepalese, for broader participation in the political
Elections at various levels based on universal suffrage are
held every 5 years. There are multiple candidates, but
political parties are not permitted to take part. Within the
National Panchayat there is lively debate on many issues, but
not on the monarchy itself, which cannot be criticized in the
legislature or in print. In the absence of recognized
political parties, the palace effectively dominates the
legislature. The continued ban on political parties makes it
difficult for public opinion to be mobilized and represented
outside the strict confines of the Panchayat system. However,
the banned Nepali Congress Party and a variety of Communist
groups actively criticize the Government on many issues and
periodically attempt to mobilize public opinion.
Despite the fact that political parties are legally banned,
the Government continues a low-key dialog with some of the
more moderate party representatives. The King meets with
party leaders on an irregular basis. He reportedly met in
1989 with Ganesh Man Singh, the leader of the banned Nepali
Congress Party. However, in November Singh was taken into
police custody, then released on bail, allegedly on the charge
of defaming and undermining the King and members of the royal
family and the country.
Section 4 Governm.ental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
There were no governmental or nongovernmental investigations
of human rights conditions in Nepal in 1989 outside the area
of worker rights (see Section 6). There are several
unregistered human rights organizations which address domestic
human rights issues. These include the Nepal Human Rights
Organization and Human Rights Protection Forum. In September
the Government finally accepted the registration of a human
rights group known as the Nepal Human Rights Organization
(distinct from the unregistered group of the same name).
While some human rights activists consider the new group to be
"government-sponsored," its board of directors includes
members who actively oppose the present "partyless" political
system as well as those who accept it. While the Government
has not granted official status to other human rights groups,
neither has it acted forcibly against them.
The Government of Nepal is generally not responsive to outside
criticism of its human rights practices but did write to AI in
1988 to assert that officials were bound to inform detainees
held under the PSA of the grounds of detention and that
detainees or their representatives could approach the courts
to set aside any unlawful detention order. AI replied,
expressing concern that the detention orders were unspecific
and so broad that effective recourse to the courts was
difficult; it asked that a judicial authority promptly examine
the legality of detention in the broadest sense. AI said that
by the end of the year it had received no further response to
this and other AI concerns.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
Women in Nepal have the right to vote and to hold property in
their own names. However, women do not enjoy their rights
fully in many rural areas, where the weight of tradition, lack
of education, and ignorance of the law remain severe
impediments to the exercise of these rights. The female
literacy rate in 1988 was 18 percent, far lower than the
average literacy rate of 33 percent. Over the years, changes
in marriage and inheritance laws have benefited women. Women
are engaged chiefly in agriculture and, to a lesser extent,
small trading.
Wife beating is said to be common though little is known about
its extent. Abuse occurring within the family is seldom
mentioned owing to the value attached to personal privacy in
this traditional society. In general, there is virtually no
public attention to or discussion of violence against women
nor any government policies that focus on it as an issue.
The Nepal Women's Organization (one of the six "class"
organizations set up by the Government) is charged with
protecting women from exploitation and preventing violations
of their rights. One of its major functions is to provide
legal aid service to make women aware of their rights and the
legal protection available to them. However, this
organization is most active in Kathmandu--not in the villages
where most women live. A growing number of women's lobbying
groups are now taking up women's causes. The Government
itself has adopted policies designed to encourage women's
participation in family planning, adult education programs,
and small-scale income-generating enterprises.
Still largely a traditional society, Nepal remains wedded to
the caste system. However, public discrimination on the basis
of caste, particularly the public shunning of "untouchables,"
has been outlawed and is officially discouraged. The spread
of education and higher levels of prosperity, especially in
the Kathmandu valley, are slowly reducing caste distinctions
and increasing opportunities for lower socioeconomic groups.
Politics and senior jobs in the government administration and
army in Nepal continue to be dominated by higher and better
educated castes (Brahmins, Chhetris, and certain elements of
the Newar community) , but the representation of other castes
is slowly increasing.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. Right of Association
Workers do not enjoy the right to form associations
independent of the Government. The Nepal Labor Organization
(NLO) was established by the Government in 1963 to represent
workers' interests after trade unions were banned in 1960,
although the NLO is officially portrayed as being
independent. All factory, mill, and other wage earners,
including those in the transportation sector, are eligible for
membership in the NLO, but membership iS not mandatory. The
NLO claims a membership of 20,000, about 3 percent of the
total work force. Government workers are not allowed to join
the NLO. The NLO generally represents "blue-collar"
laborers. The professions have associations which function
like trade unions but are not recognized as such.
Under the provisions of the Nepal Factories and Factory
Workers' Act of 1977, as amended, factory managers are
directed to form committees representing both management and
labor "to encourage friendly and amicable relations." The
committees are supposed to meet once a month. The number of
members of each committee are not to exceed 20, with equal
participation by management and labor.
Nepalese workers theoretically enjoy the right to strike, but
only if the strike is authorized by the government-sponsored
NLO. According to the most recent data gathered by the NLO, a
total of 5 strikes were held in 1989, including a prolonged
strike at the government-owned tea factory.
Several formal complaints, including one by the American
Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations,
alleging the denial of trade union rights have been filed in
recent years. The International Confederation of Free Trade
Unions (ICFTU) and the World Confederation of the
Organizations of the Teaching Professions (WCOTP) brought a
complaint before the International Labor Organization (ILO)
regarding the Nepalese Government's refusal since 1980 to
register the Nepal National Teachers Association (NNTA) , as
well as mass arrests, dismissals, transfers or other actions
against demonstrating teachers. The Government responded
formally in 1989, but the ILO stated that the reply lacked
details and urged judicial inquiry into the alleged deaths of
seven NNTA local officers, and reiterated its call for the
right to a rapid trial and Nepalese government recognition of
the NNTA.
Two teachers organizations—the Nepal National Secondary
Teachers Association and the Nepal National Primary Teachers
Association—were established and formally approved by the
Government in 1988, which has averted efforts to form a
teachers union. Though critics assailed the new organizations
as government controlled, a majority of the members believe
establishment of the new organizations has resulted in
significant gains, including a pay raise of 29 to 30 percent
in 1989, compared with a 25-percent increase for civil
servants. According to the WCOTP, the NNTA continues to
The NLO is not affiliated with any international trade union
federation. The NLO, which was a member of the ICFTU in the
mid-1970 's and then withdrew, has held informal discussions
with the ICFTU about rejoining.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Workers do not, in practice, enjoy the right to organize and
bargain collectively. Although there are limited provisions
on collective bargaining and unfair labor practices in the
Nepal Factories and Factory Workers' Act of 1977 (the Act), no
collective bargaining agreements are known to have been made.
Committees established by the Act have a mandate to settle
differences, and a tribunal of arbitrators may be called to
redress grievances. The Government states that the Nepalese
system is based on "class coordination" rather than on a
system of collective bargaining, reflecting the emphasis on
class organizations such as the Nepal Labor Organization.
There are no export processing zones in Nepal.
c. Prohibition of Forced and Compulsory Labor
The Constitution stipulates that no one may be subject to
compulsory labor, and neither forced nor compulsory labor is
practiced in Nepal.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The Act sets the minimum employment age for children at 14
but, according to many observers, child labor is common in
privately owned factories and in the service sector, where
enforcement of the Act is weak. The agricultural sector,
which falls outside the purview of the Act, employs 90 percent
of Nepal's labor force, where children of poor farmers help
support their families.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The Act calls for the Government to set conditions of work
with respect to minimum wage, a 48-hour workweek, and
standards for occupational safety and health, but
implementation is uneven and the Act is not rigorously
enforced. The few large factories in Nepal, i.e., those with
100 or more workers, are considered to be in better compliance
with these regulations than the more numerous small
enterprises. Minimum wage rates, increased by 25 percent in
1988, are set for four categories of employment as follows:
unskilled—approximately $19 per month; semiskilled—$21 per
month; skilled—$25 per month; highly skilled—$32 per month
(all figures in this section are calculated at September 1989
exchange rates). The Government reports that average national
family income is $43.26 per month, (rural - $41.82 and urban -
$62.63). These wages all exceed the 1989 annual per capita
income of $150, but are considered sufficient only for the
most minimal standard of living