The U.S. Department of State stated that Bhutan has not been allowing all political and apolitical organizations to get registered.
Releasing a 17-page long Human Rights Report 2011, the US said though the constitution provides for freedom of association, and the government permitted the registration of some political parties and organizations, but that was only for those which are regarded “not harmful to the peace and unity of the country.”
“The government regarded political parties organized by Nepali-speaking refugees in refugee camps in Nepal as illegal, terrorist, and anti-national in nature,” said the report, released on May 24.
According to the Department, the ICRC was the only international human rights monitoring group officially operating in the country.
“There were reports that most of the NGOs in Bhutan operated under the umbrella of the royal family. The 2007 Civil Society Organization Act requires all new NGOs to register with the government,” added the report.
The report also highlighted that the law does not address forced exile, but the government forced approximately 90,000 Nepali-speaking persons to leave the country in the early 1990s, following a series of steps taken during the 1970s and 1980s to deprive the Nepali-speaking population of its citizenship.
It further said, “There were no reported cases of forced exile during the year. There continued to be government delays in implementing a process to identify and repatriate refugees in Nepal with legitimate claims to Bhutanese citizenship.”
According to NGOs, stateless persons remain resident in Bhutan, mainly in the south, but the number is unknown, claimed the report. “Stateless persons cannot obtain No Objection Certificates and Security Clearance certificates, which limited access to employment, business ownership, and school attendance at higher-level institutions.”
Meanwhile, the reported also quoted the Human Rights Watch Human Rights that stated that the government excluded 13 percent of the Nepali-speaking population from voting in 2008 because they were considered “non-nationals” in the 2005 census.
However, it lauded the fairness during the elections. “International monitors reported that the elections were generally free and fair with no reports of irregularities during the election process.”