BHUTAN AT A GLANCE, 2000: A COUNTRY PROFILE
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BHUTAN AT A GLANCE, 2000: A COUNTRY PROFILE

Form of government

Absolute hereditary monarchy

Area (sq. Km)

46,500, land-locked with no access to sea

Capital

Thimphu

Administrative districts

20

Political parties

Political parties banned

Population in 2001

833,000   (  699,000   inside Bhutan and 134,000 refugees in Nepal and India )

Age Composition

(%)

00-14

42.1

15-64

53.7

65 +

04.2

Urban population (%)

21.0

Rural Population (%)

79.0

Population density

14.1

Median age

19.4

Index of aging

10.1

Currency

Ngultrum at par with Indian Rupees

Languages

Dzongkha (national), Sarchopkha and Nepali

GDP real growth (%) in 1998

5.1

Population growth

3.1%

Tourist arrival in 1999

7,158

Land boundaries

1075 km: China 470 km, India 605 km

Land Use

2% arable land

Birth rate   

36.22 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

52.4

Male (years)

52.79

Female (years)

51.99 ( 2000 est.)

Total fertility rate  born/woman (2000 est.)

5.13 children 

Literacy rate Total

42.2%

Male

56.2%

Female

28.1% (1995 est.)

GDP -Agriculture share to GDP

38%

Industry share to GDP

37% 

Services share to GDP

25% (1998)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

9% (1998)

Religion****

100.00 %

Drukpa Krgyupa  Buddhism

16.24 % 

Nyngmapa  Buddhism

34,53 %

Hindu                                                           

46.25 %

Christians                   

02.04 %

Tibetan Buddhism                                

00.90 %          

Animist or nature worshippers            

01.02 %


* as per
Bhutan at a Glance, 2000,  Central Statistical Organization, Planning Commission Secretariat, Royal Government of Bhutan, 1999.

**  as per CIA Fact Book 2000*** 

as per  CEMARD-Bhutan estimate

COUNTRY BACKGROUND: BHUTAN

Under the British influence a monarchy was set up in 1907; three years later a treaty was signed whereby the country became a British protectorate. Independence was attained in 1949, with India subsequently guiding foreign relations and providing aid.

Bhutan is located in the eastern Himalayas bordered by India in the south, east and west and by the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China in the north. It is a land-locked country having an area of 46,500 Sq. Km. between latitudes 26 45 0 North and 28 10 0 North and between longitudes 88 45 0 east and 92 10 0 east. At its longest east-west dimension, Bhutan stretches around 300 kilometres and it measures 170 kilometre at its maximum north-south dimension.

SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE

 

With the support of British Empire, monarchy was established in 1907. Since then, Bhutan is ruled by an absolute hereditary monarch since 1907. There is no Constitution or the Bill of Rights in Bhutan. The system of governance is practically autocratic, primitive, despotic and feudal. The King is the head of the state, government and the highest court of appeal. In the absence of the Constitution or clearly defined powers of the government., the executive, judiciary and the legislature function as a single administrative structure under the command of the King. There is a Council of Minister under the chairmanship of the king.

 

JUDICIARY

 

The High Court in Thimphu known as Royal Court of Justice is the country's supreme court was set up in 1968. It comprises of six judges and functions as a single bench and district courts too have a lone district judge. The judiciary is not independent of the king and neither is it impartial or neutral. Since, it functions under the command of the king, the King exercises strong, active and direct power over the judiciary. The Government significantly restricts the rights of Bhutanese citizens and the judiciary has never protected these rights. The judiciary is also never known to declare any government action unlawful. Provisions for defence attorneys, lawyers, solicitors and jury trials are non existent. No Judicial official including the Chief Justice is trained in law. The current judges do not possess any university degree. In fact an important institution like the judiciary has been made a dumping ground for inefficient and unwanted civil servants. Arbitrary arrest and detention is the rule rather than exception. Royal Bhutan Police has never seen an arrest warrant. Bhutan has the most outdated, unprofessional and unlawful prosecution and trial system. The government restricts citizens’ right to a fair trial. In contravention to all established jurisprudence and international legal norms, the judges in Bhutan investigate cases, file charges, prosecute and even award judgment. The hearing judge assists the police from the executive branch of the government in the prosecution and decides the cases. The entire basis of the judicial system is extraction of the confession of the crime.

LEGISLATURE

The National Assembly of Bhutan ( a unicameral house ) is called Tshogdu. It consists of 150 members. 100 seats are filled up by the so-called representative of people, selected by the King appointed Dzongda (Chief District Officer). The Chief District Officer is the final authority to decide on the person to be selected. Forty members are appointed by the King from among the bureaucracy and ten members are nominated by the Buddhist clergy. There is no fair representation to the National Assembly. It is a rubber-stamp of the executive and its deliberations are all engineered by the Government. There is only Treasury bench. The king and his Council of Ministers is the single source of law. Members of national Parliament -- the National Assembly (NA)-- themselves cannot pass any legislation. They do not belong to any political party, since political parties and human rights organisations are banned in Bhutan. The Council of Ministers sends all legislation to the National Assembly for approval and enactment. The NA just approves them and all legislation passed by the NA is sent to the King, who has the power to veto any legislation. NA has been relegated to the institution of eulogizing the magnanimity of the king, paying adulatory and flattering tributes to him and legitimising government action. NA members are indoctrinated to deliberate on pre-decided agenda set by the government. Laws in Bhutan have no respect at all for individual rights and civil liberties. Citizens including members of NA lose their nationality if they criticize the King and his government. The king and his government are above law and supreme in the legal system.

DIPLOMATIC RELATION

Bhutan’s foreign policy is guide by India under Article 2 of the Indo-Bhutan Treaty, 1949. India has been the largest foreign aid provider and trading partner. Bhutan has diplomatic relations with India, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, EEC, Norway, Netherlands, Kuwait, Japan, Finland, South Korea, Austria, Thailand, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macaw. It does not have diplomatic relations with the nest door neighbour China and USA.

Bhutanese residential diplomatic missions are located in New Delhi, UN Headquarters, New York, UN Offices Geneva, Kuwait city, Bangkok, Colombo and Dhaka. India and Bangladesh have their embassies in Thimphu. The Austrian Cooperation Bureau, Canadian Co-opeartion Offive, GTZ, SNV Netherlands, DANIDA, HELVETAS, UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, WFP and WHO maintain their resident representatives in Thimphu.

 

Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations in 1971. Bhutan is a member of. Colombo Plan, UPU, UNCTAD, ESCAP, NAM, IFAD, IMF, IBRD, IDA, FAO, WHO, UNESCO, ADB, UNIDO, ITU, ECOSOC in 1992. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) opened its office in Thimphu in 1979.

LITERACY

 

Bhutan's literacy level is lowest in South Asia, around 42%. There are less than 3,000 graduates in all streams together (arts, science, commerce, engineering and medicine together). Less than 40 people hold Master degrees.

 

FOREIGN AID

 

As a Least developed country Bhutan depends on foreign aids for financing its developmental programmes and establishment costs. India is the largest donor to Bhutan. Other donor countries to Bhutan include Australia, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom and the United States.

HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION

Bhutan is a closed society, where the Government of Bhutan virtually controls everything. Politics and discussion about country's politics is banned. Even viewing of television was prohibited until 1999. There is no newspaper except one weekly bulletin owned by the government and the transparency on the government action is non-existent. The radio, Bhutan Broadcasting Service and newly established Television station are owned by the government. These agencies are used for propaganda of the government. They publish and broadcast only what the government wants the people to read, hear and know.

There is no official guarantee for the protection of citizens' human rights. The Bhutanese people are not secure and do not enjoy even the basic human rights. Dissidence and opposition to the Government is treated as treason. Bhutanese people have been absolutely denied of their fundamental human rights and they have no Right to Freedom of speech, expression, press and publication; no right to peaceful assembly and union; no right to choose and oppose the government; no right to vote and elections; no right to freedom of religion, worship, observe and practise their religion in community, in public, or even in private; no right to form unions, associations, organisations, NGOs and political parties; no right to social and cultural rights. Bhutanese refugees have no right to return to their country. Bhutan. Bhutan Government has violated 20 Articles out of the thirty Articles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It has not signed major International Instruments on Human Rights, such as the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Christianity is banned in Bhutan

 

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