Police ask house owners to keep personal details of tenants. Rights activists show concernPolice say they want to maintain general record of people but rights activists call it an act of privacy infringement.
Nepal Police has alerted city residents to take caution against criminal activities such as theft and robbery as major festivals approach.
In a 19-point appeal, the security agency has asked house owners to collect details of the tenants who rent their space including their names, permanent address and photographs. However, human right activists and civil society members have criticised the move saying that it infringes on individuals’ right to privacy.
“If police had asked for the number of tenants, that would have been okay, but telling the homeowners to keep the details along with pictures is against the constitutional right to privacy,'' said human rights activist Charan Prasain.
Chapter-2 of Privacy Act-2018 states that every person has the right to maintain the privacy of matters such as biological or biometric identity and gender identity.
“If it was an unusual emergency situation, or if there was a possibility of terrorist threat, the state’s security force could have done that. But in normal situations it does not sound really good,” said Prasain.
When the Post contacted Senior Superintendent and Central Police Spokesperson Basanta Bahadur Kunwar to inquire about the issue, he said it deserved no serious attention.
“We are continuing this for maintaining records. This system was already implemented in the Bhaisepati area of Lalitpur some four years ago,” said Kunwar. “The sole purpose is making people aware, especially since it’s a festive season.”
However, Prasain says it’s not a wise thing to do when everything is normal.
“This will create terror among the common citizens. What if the homeowner misuses the information he took from his tenants?” Prasain said.
Mohna Ansari, a human rights advocate and former member of the National Human Right Commission, expressed strong reservations over the police appeal.
“This is an issue directly linked with privacy, and it's a sensitive issue,” said Ansari. “We have a trend of gathering personal details but there is a question regarding confidentiality,” said Ansari.
“It’s questionable if Nepal Police keeps such data. First it should get approval for that and there should be legal provisions as it’s linked with many private and personal issues,” said Ansari.
Others too have questioned police for demanding personal details of tenants.
“If the house owner keeps the record of citizenship or phone number of the tenants, that’s enough,” said former deputy inspector general Hemant Malla Thakuri. He said such information would be helpful for the investigation of any criminal activities.
“Asking for all the details of tenants is unnecessary. During my tenure during the Maoist insurgency, we had collected such details, but the situation is different now,” said Thakuri.