Home Ministry’s Plan to Draft a Border Security Act
The Ministry of Home Affairs has published a Home Administration Reform Action Plan -2078 with the objective of improving the departments under the ministry. The document has highlighted ten major areas for improvement including policy and legal reform, peace, security and crime control, institutional reforms and physical infrastructure, disaster management, and good governance among others. Under the policy and legal reform section, one of the actions that is outlined is drafting of a Border Security Act which is planned to be completed in a year. Nepal Armed Police Force along with the Home Ministry will be responsible for drafting the act.
The plan to draft a Border Security Act comes after 20 years of drafting the Armed Police Act 2058 through which the Armed Police Force (APF) was assigned with protecting international borders. Similarly, the National Security Policy stipulates that Nepal Army is tasked with defending Nepal’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity from external infiltration and aggression. Although there are different organizations deployed for the protection of borders, there is no separate legal apparatus that binds these organizations together.
The news comes at a time when Nepal is having border issues with both India and China. One of the reasons for the ongoing border disputes with China is the lack of proper surveillance of the border pillars. Similarly, the open border between Nepal and India poses security concerns for Nepal like human and goods trafficking, smuggling, and unchecked migration. According to K.C. (2019), smuggling and illegal cross border activities have increased over the years. Although National Security Policy encompasses certain aspects of borders, border security primarily focuses on territorial integrity. Thus, a separate legal document concerning border security is important in addressing these issues. Apart from the act, the ministry is also planning to prepare a digital profile of border posts between India and China within the next two years.
To strengthen the border security of the country, the document proposes to increase the number of APF personnel in accordance with the international standards and improve the existing infrastructure. A recent news regarding the lack of infrastructure for the APF personnel deployed at the Border Outpost (BOP) in Hilsa is indicative of the need to strengthen the existing infrastructure of APF.
Although the plan put forth by the ministry is important in addressing some of the pressing issues of the country, it is also very ambitious. For instance, the development of a software for thermal customized tracking system to monitor people and vehicular cross-border movement will require integrated planning and infrastructure. Amidst the political turmoil in the country, it will be interesting to observe how these plans will be implemented effectively.