Nepalese police have alerted townspeople to take precautions against criminal activity such as theft and burglary as major festivals approach.
In a 19-point appeal, the security agency has asked the owners of the house to collect details of tenants who are renting their space, including their names, permanent address and photographs. However, human rights activists and members of civil society have criticized the move, saying it violates individuals’ right to privacy.
“If the police had asked for the number of tenants it would have been acceptable, but telling landlords to keep details with photos is against the constitutional right to privacy,” said human rights activist Charan Prasain.
Chapter 2 of the Privacy Act-2018 states that everyone has the right to maintain the confidentiality of matters such as biological or biometric identity and gender identity.
âIf this was an unusual emergency, or if there was a possibility of a terrorist threat, state security forces could have done it. But in normal situations it doesn’t sound really good, âsaid Prasain.
When the Post contacted Chief Superintendent and Central Police spokesperson Basanta Bahadur Kunwar to inquire about the issue, it said it did not deserve any serious attention.
âWe are pursuing this to maintain the records. This system was already implemented in the Bhaisepati area in Lalitpur about four years ago, âKunwar said. âThe only goal is to educate people, especially since it’s the holiday season.
However, Prasain says it is not a wise thing to do when everything is normal.
âIt will create terror among ordinary citizens. What if the landlord misuses the information he has collected from his tenants? Said Prasain.
Mohna Ansari, a human rights defender and former member of the National Human Rights Commission, expressed strong reservations about the police call.
âIt’s a directly related issue of privacy, and it’s a sensitive issue,â Ansari said. âWe tend to collect personal information but there is an issue around confidentiality,â Ansari said.
âIt is doubtful that the Nepalese police keep such data. First of all, it should be approved and there should be legal provisions as it relates to many private and personal matters, âAnsari said.
Others also questioned the police for asking for personal information about the tenants.
“If the owner of the house keeps the citizenship register or the tenants’ phone number, that is enough,” said former deputy inspector general Hemant Malla Thakuri. He said such information would be useful for the investigation of any criminal activity.
âThere is no point in asking all the details of the tenants. During my tenure during the Maoist uprising, we collected such details, but the situation is different now, âThakuri said.