HRW urges Nepal to act against rights abuse by security forces

Kathmandu, September 2 (efe-epa).- Nonprofit Human RIghts Watch on Wednesday urged the government of Nepal to act against “grave human rights abuses” by the security forces as per the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission.

In a statement, the New York-based rights watchdog said that the government should stop reversing the commission’s findings and ensure its independence.

“There are mounting allegations of extrajudicial executions and deaths in custody resulting from torture, yet the Nepal authorities resist conducting credible investigations,” HRW said.

“The prosecutions for abuses by the security forces are practically unheard of.”

On June 20, 2019 the police in the Sarlahi district killed 47-year-old Kumar Paudel, member of a splinter group of Maoist rebels, in an incident termed custodial killing by the NHRC, which recommended prosecuting the officers responsible.

Independent activists and the NHRC have also called for investigations into two more alleged custodial killings within the past two months.

The victims include 24-year-old Raj Kumar Chepang – who was detained by the army – and Bijay Mahara, 19, who was detained by the police.

Both men were members of marginalized communities, leading to concerns that the cases will not be credibly investigated, HRW said.

After Mahara’s death on Aug. 26 – 10 days after his arrest – the police claimed that had died of kidney failure, even though he recorded a video in the hospital before his death alleging abuse in detention.

Following protests in the area, the home ministry on Monday suspended three police officers for six months pending investigations.

Bed Bhattarai, the secretary and spokesperson for the NHRC, told EFE that during the past decade the government had acted on just 12 percent of nearly 1,200 recommendations made by the commission.

“Most of those implemented involved paying compensation or relief to the victim’s family. But the government is lenient in punishing individual or groups involved in many alleged extrajudicial killings and custodial deaths.”

“The impunity is rising as the government is protecting people and groups involved in killings,” he alleged.

Bhattarai said that the home ministry had urged NHRC to” rethink” its recommendation over the killing of Paudel, but the commission stood by its decision and had “clear and solid evidence.”

HRW said that the repeated failure of Nepalese governments to address abuses during a decade-long conflict between government forces and Maoist rebels, along with the use of “disproportionate force” on unarmed protesters in the southern Tarai region in 2015, showed that the country has a “longstanding culture of impunity.”

Meenakshi Ganguly, the HRW South Asia director, alleged that the government used the rhetoric of “rule of law” while seeking donations and appealing to foreign diplomats, but actually encouraged a culture of impunity.

The nonprofit recalled that in a successful bid to get elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2017, Kathmandu had claimed to respect the authority and independence of the NHRC, the judiciary and pledged to pursue a justice process for conflict era abuses, but failed to keep the promises.

“Nepal is still trying to grapple with delivering justice for unlawful killings during the armed conflict, but instead of keeping its promise of reforms and pledges against repeat offenses, the abuses continue to mount,” Ganguly said.

Other rights activists have also voiced similar concerns.

“The government is not committed to fulfilling its responsibility and (is) promoting human rights violations,” human rights activist Ram Dayal Rakesh, told EFE.

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