Junio 29, 2007

Nepal: Government's flawed disappearance probe commission an attempt at extending impunity

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned by the decision taken by the Government of Nepal on June 21, 2007 to form a 'High Level Probe Commission on Disappeared Persons' under the chairmanship of former-Supreme Court Justice Narendra Bahadur Neupane, as the establishment of this commission is in contradiction to the directives contained in the landmark June 1, 2007 Supreme Court verdict and Nepal’s domestic and international human rights commitments.

According to Nepalese human rights organisations, it is feared that such a commission will likely prolong and reinforce the culture of impunity that currently reigns in the country with regard to the problem of forced disappearances, enabling perpetrators to continue to avoid being brought to justice for their actions and ensuring that victims and their families are deprived of justice and reparation. It must be recalled that the United Nations declared that Nepal was the scene of the world’s worst problem of forced disappearance in 2003 and 2004, with the problem having been ongoing for years before then, notably since the beginning of the internal conflict between the then-government and the CPN-Maoist insurgents in the country in 1996.

In its June 1 judgement on disappearances, the Supreme Court of Nepal ruled that existing legal arrangements that would govern any probe commission into any inquiry in the cases of human rights violations including disappearances are currently insufficient and that the current criminal legal apparatus lacks the necessary provisions to deal with these issues. The Court held that it is imperative to enact a separate law to deal with cases of forced disappearance. The AHRC has for some time been calling for the enactment of a law criminalizing disappearances as one of the effective ways to begin the process of challenging impunity concerning this very grave human rights violation and welcomes the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in this regard.

The Court directed the government to form a commission on enforced disappearances only after enacting a comprehensive law to govern it and suggested that the government consult the UN Convention of Enforced Disappearance before drafting and enacting such a law. It is recalled that it is a constitutional obligation for the government to follow orders issued by the Court and that the country’s Interim Constitution has preserved a mandatory provision that makes any verdict on the part of the Supreme Court binding on the government.

In light of this, the fact that the current government has formed a commission in blatant disregard for and opposition to the content of the directive order issued by the Court is a serious development that greatly undermines the government’s credibility concerning human rights and the fight against impunity. It has been suspected that the current government, which now also includes the Maoists, has no interest in dealing effectively with the issue of impunity or addressing the vast range and number of past human rights violations resulting from the country’s recently-ended internal conflict. The government’s decision to establish the afore-mentioned commission can only be seen as reinforcing this suspicion.

It is therefore imperative, if the government is to retain any credibility in terms of human rights, that this latest probe commission be immediately dissolved. A probe commission to look into disappearances should only be formed if it meets the requirements set out by the Supreme Court and is in line with international human rights laws and standards. The way in which the government of Nepal deals with the problem of forced disappearance will represent a litmus test concerning its ability to respect, protect and promote human rights and to ensure peace and security, for which it has been mandated by the people of Nepal following the popular uprisings in April 2006.

Posted by marga at 6:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Junio 27, 2007

Nepal - Body formed to probe disappeared

KATHMANDU, June 26: The government has constituted a three member High Level Probe Commission (HLPC) under the chairmanship of former justice of the Supreme Court to investigate over the people who have gone missing.

The commission was constituted as per the cabinet's decision on June 21 in accordance with Investigation Commission Act-2026 BS.

Other members of the commission are duo advocates Sher Bahadur K.C. and Raman Kumar Shrestha.

The commission has given the responsibility of investigating about the people who were missed by both the sides during the conflict from Falgun 1 of 2052 BS to Magsir 5 of 2063 BS and finding out people who were involved to disappear them.

Likewise, the commission has also been asked to present a report recommending sentence to those found guilty and recommend compensation to the victimized family members, said the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction.

The terms of the commission would be of six months after the date of work start.


Posted by marga at 5:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nepal.- Una Comisión especial investigará la desaparición de cientos de personas durante el conflicto nepalí

KATMANDU, 27 (EP/AP) El Gobierno nepalí anunció hoy que el antiguo juez del Tribunal Supremo, Narendra Bahadur Neupane, encabezará una comisión especial que investigue el destino de los cientos de personas que desparecieron durante la rebelión comunista.

La comisión, de tres miembros, intentará encontrar a los desaparecidos desde el comienzo del conflicto en 1996, según un representante del Ministerio de Paz y reconstrucción, Madhu Regmi. El 1 de junio, el Tribunal Supremo ordenó al Gobierno que investigase el "gran número de casos de desaparición forzosa". no se tiene constancia del número total de personas desaparecidos ya que varía según el grupo que lo denuncia, y el Gobierno nepalí no ha dado ninguna cifra.

Grupos de Derechos Humanos denuncian que cientos de personas fueron detenidas por las fuerzas de seguridad y secuestradas por los rebeldes comunistas y que nunca se volvió a saber de ellos. Las leyes de emergencia permitían a los soldados detener a sospechosos y retenerles sin acusación formal en su contra, mientras que los rebeldes secuestraban a quienes se les oponían o eran sospechosos de ser espías del Gobierno.

Los rebeldes depusieron sus armas el año pasado y firmaron un acuerdo de paz. El Gobierno, por su parte, ha estado bajo presión para que revele qué fue de los desaparecidos. El Gobierno interino, que tomó el poder en abril de 2006, ha dicho en repetidas ocasiones que investigará los hechos pero no parece tener interés en comenzar.

Posted by marga at 5:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Junio 19, 2007

Nepal - 200 protesters in Nepal demand information on hundreds who disappeared during conflict

The Associated Press

KATMANDU, Nepal: About 200 people barricaded the Nepalese prime minister's house Tuesday, demanding the government reveal the whereabouts of hundreds of people who allegedly disappeared during a decade-long civil conflict.

"We are demanding the government provide information on our family members who disappeared during the conflict," said protest leader Sharmila Tripathi, as fellow demonstrators chanted slogans and blocked entrances to the prime minister's official residence in the capital Katmandu.

Tripathi said her husband disappeared about four years ago and she has no idea what has happened to him.

Maoist rebels gave up their armed revolt last year and joined a peace process to end the decade-old insurgency.

But at the height of the fighting from 2001 to early 2006, hundreds of people were detained by the army and many disappeared while they were being held. Emergency laws had allowed for soldiers to pick up suspects and hold them without charge.

The interim government, which took control in April 2006, has repeatedly said it will investigate the alleged disappearances but has yet to take decisive steps in that direction.

Nepal's supreme court ordered the government on June 1 to investigate the "large number of enforced disappearance cases."

New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a statement last week saying, "The Nepali government should quickly implement the Supreme Court's recent order to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the thousands of enforced disappearances in Nepal's civil conflict."

The international rights group said Nepal's new government has promised to find the truth and ensure justice for disappearances but has been slow to make good on these pledges.

Estimates of the number of people who disappeared vary and the government has not given any figure, but rights groups have said it is in the hundreds.

Posted by marga at 5:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Junio 15, 2007

Nepal: Supreme Court Orders Action on ‘Disappearances’

Government Should Take Immediate Steps to End Impunity

(New York and Geneva, June 15, 2007) – The Nepali government should quickly implement the Supreme Court’s recent order to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the thousands of enforced disappearances in Nepal’s civil conflict, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists said today.

On June 1, the Supreme Court ruled on a large number of enforced disappearance cases, including 80 habeas corpus writs, and ordered the government to immediately investigate all allegations of enforced disappearances. The court ordered that this Commission of Inquiry must comply with international human standards.

“Nepal’s new government has promised to find the truth and ensure justice for ‘disappearances,’ but has been slow to make good on these pledges,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Implementing the Supreme Court’s order on ‘disappearances’ will be a key test of the Nepali government’s commitment to establishing accountability and the rule of law.”

Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists welcomed the comprehensive Supreme Court decision.

“Through this decision, Nepal’s Supreme Court has demonstrated the important role any judiciary can play in upholding respect for the rule of law and international human rights principles, even in a country just emerging from conflict,” said Wilder Tayler, deputy secretary-general of the International Commission of Jurists. “This decision should be a source of inspiration to other judiciaries in the world as they struggle to deal with cases involving enforced disappearances.”

The Supreme Court also ordered the government to prosecute those responsible for the death in custody of Chakra Bahadur Katuwal. Katuwal was transferred to army barracks following one day of detention in Okhaldhunga District police station. On the same day he was transferred to the army barracks he was returned to the police station showing severe signs of torture. He died later that day. When his family enquired about his whereabouts, they were told he had been transferred to another district.

The Supreme Court also ordered that while the investigations take place the government should take administrative action against members of the security forces under investigation for involvement in Katuwal’s death. The order requires the administrative action to be in line with the report of the Detainees Investigation Task Force formed by the Supreme Court, which recommended suspensions of those under investigation for enforced disappearances.

The court ordered the government to provide interim relief to the families of the victims of the “disappeared,” which is to be provided without any effect on the final outcome of these cases. The court also ordered the government to enact legislation that would criminalise enforced disappearances and take into account the new International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Thousands of individuals were reportedly “disappeared” during Nepal’s 10-year conflict. According to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Nepal in 2003 and 2004 recorded the highest number of new cases of enforced disappearances in the world. Between May 2000 and January 13, 2007, the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal received 2,028 cases of enforced disappearance. The fate or whereabouts of over 600 of these people remains unknown.

The Nepali government’s failure to hold accountable even a single perpetrator of these enforced disappearances perpetuates the culture of impunity in Nepal. This contributes to the current failures of law and order in the country and could lead to gross human rights violations in the future.

“The government must address impunity for past human rights violations, especially enforced disappearances, in a meaningful way,” said Wilder Tayler. “Victims of human rights violations, their communities and wider civil society must be involved in decisions about establishing the truth, ensuring justice and providing reparations.”

Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists called on the Nepali government to:

* Propose a new law specifically on enforced disappearances, in line with the Supreme Court order, rather than amend the Civil Code, as the government currently proposes. Such legislation should take into account the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance and recommendations made by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists;
* Form a ministerial-led taskforce from the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction to take responsibility for action on relevant parts of the Supreme Court order;
* Provide the families of the 84 victims with the interim relief as ordered by the Supreme Court;
* Initiate a criminal investigation into the death in custody of Chakra Bhadur Katuwal and prosecute those found responsible for or involved in his death;
* Suspend those identified by the Supreme Court as responsible for the death of Chakra Bhadur Katuwal and other “disappearances.”

Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists called on the Nepali government to take immediate steps to implement the order of the Supreme Court.

“Nepal’s government needs to end its foot-dragging on impunity for human rights violations by enforcing this order quickly and comprehensively,” said Brad Adams. “We’ll soon see if the government is serious about protecting its own citizens.”


Posted by marga at 11:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nepal's disappeared a legacy of civil war

This Saturday marks one year since Nepal's Maoist chairman met the Prime Minister, leading to a peace agreement five months later.

For many families in Nepal, however, the pain of war continues, as they search to find out what happened to relatives forcibly disappeared during the conflict.

The so-called Summit Talks in June 2006 were the first time Maoist chairman Prachanda appeared in public in the capital, to meet the Prime Minister and other political leaders.

The comprehensive peace agreement officially ended a decade-long insurgency which claimed more than 13,000 lives.

During those 10 years of conflict, however, hundreds of people were arrested and interrogated by the army, and many remain missing to this day.

The International Red Cross has a list of 937 people reportedly disappeared by the authorities, while the UN has documented around 500 cases.

Sandra Beidas, chief of protection at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program that the impact of disappearances on families is enormous.

"Obviously not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead, what happened to them, is just a constant anguish, and in a sense it's a form of mental torture," she said.

"Especially sometimes when the authorities say they were killed in a confrontation when the families know very well that they were actually taken away to a military barracks and disappeared from the military barracks."

Detailed investigations, little follow up

The UN has made detailed investigations into several cases, including that of 49 people who reportedly disappeared from an army barracks in Kathmandu in late 2003.

The case has become a high profile test of the army and government, yet despite the UN's report of imprisonment, torture and disappearances from the barracks, the UN says there's been an inadequate response from the military.

Sandra Beidas says they are extremely disappointed by the lack of follow up.

"We know that there was an army task force that investigated the cases following the report but the army did not give us a copy," she said.

"They have given us some information on what they say has happened to a very small number of those individuals and in a number of those cases we have actually seen that the information is inaccurate and we still consider the people disappeared."

The Nepal Army however, in a rare interview to media, has defended its efforts to stamp out human rights abuses within its ranks.

Colonel Dharma Baniya, deputy director of the army's human rights directorate, admits that while the Nepal Army did commit violations when they first entered the conflict in 2001, they have since implemented a zero tolerance attitude to human rights abuses.

"In 2001, when army was mobilised initially, we had not educated knowledge, to be very frank, at that time we had committed some violations [in] 2001,2,3," he told Radio Australia.

"After 2003 and 4, it got down: 2005 we have got less than five, less than 10 allegations, in 2006 and 7 we have committed zero violations.

"So this justifies how the Nepalese Army is, how serious we are to protect human rights - to protect and promote human rights and international humanitarian law."

Colonel Baniya says the army has received 3,837 allegations of forced disappearances and has investigated 79 per cent of them, which still leaves 783 cases pending.

In many of these cases, he says, organisations such as the UN or Red Cross have not provided enough information to properly investigate.

Compensation gives hope

However, efforts to clarify the fate of those who disappeared received a boost recently.

Last week, Nepal's Supreme Court ruled that 83 people who are missing, were in fact taken by the security forces and ordered compensation to be paid to families.

The Court also recommended the government form a high-level commission to investigate disappearances and punish those responsible.

Colonel Baniya says the Nepal Army will fully cooperate with the new commission and try to uphold its lucrative reputation as a source of troops for UN peacekeeping missions.

"We do not want to defame our organisation by the name of one guy," he said.

"If he violates the human rights, if commits some serious violations, why should we save him by spoil our name, you see?"

With King Gyanendra effectively sidelined by last year's People's Movement, the responsibility to investigate falls on the interim government, led by Prime Minister GP Koirala.

But with Nepal's transition to peace so fragile, it could be some time before the truth is known about those still missing.

The full story is available on Connect Asia's homepage: www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia

Posted by marga at 11:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Junio 11, 2007

Nepal - Recent SC orders crucial in ending impunity: NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said the two recent Supreme Court orders to the government in connection with enforced disappearances and the death of NHRC official Dayaram Pariyar in police firing are crucial in ending impunity.

“At a time when most of the recommendations of the Commission for compensation to the victims and their families and action against the guilty remain unimplemented, our office hopes that these court orders will prove to be milestones in ending impunity,” a statement issued by the NHRC said.

Deciding a number of similar writ petitions, the apex court had on June 1st ordered the government to pay compensation to the families of involuntarily disappeared persons and form an inquiry commission to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Likewise, the SC last week had ordered the government to take action against the security personnel found guilty of shooting NHRC official Pariyar to death during an agitation in Janakpur in March.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whereabouts of more than 800 missing during the insurgency remain still unknown.

Almost all involuntary disappearances by the state occurred during the decade-long Maoist insurgency. nepalnews.com mk June 11 07

Posted by marga at 3:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Junio 10, 2007

Nepal: "For lasting peace, we must deal with the missing"

Mary Werntz, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Nepal, spoke with The Nepali Times about helping families find missing members and the need for a separate, independent commission on the disappeared. This interview was first published in The Nepali Times and is reproduced with the kind authorization of the publisher. The interview was conducted by Anagha Neelakantan.

Nepali Times: Is there the political will to address the issue of disappearance?

Mary Werntz: The biggest challenge is to not allow this issue and the suffering of families to be totally drawn into a political issue. It is about a basic humanitarian right. Also, unless you deal with the issue of the missing, you cannot move forward to a lasting peace.

The agreement on 8 November between the seven parties and the CPN-M to create a high level body to address this issue is extremely positive. In some countries it takes 10 years to get to that point. I've been told by the Ministry for Peace and Reconstruction that the high-level commission on the disappeared will go forward. They are very optimistic. It is essential that the commission be given the proper legal basis and be formed and function in an independent fashion. Parallel with this is the need to put into place measures to prevent further cases of disappearance.

What would be the mandate of such a commission?

The commission's mandate should be independent and humanitarian, focusing on the provision of remedies and information. It should be in contact and approachable by the families. Its first goal should be seeking to clarify the status of the missing. It should answer the question of whether someone is dead or alive, if dead the circumstances of the death and the location of the human remains. It should as well work on proper exhumation of the human remains and on identification of the recovered remains. Additionally and very importantly, it should answer to the needs of the families (material support, psychological support, etc) to help them in their mourning process.

The commission will need to collect, centralise, and process all the information with regard to the missing. This takes time. We've been working here since 1997 and have rooms full of documents which, if there is a commission we are comfortable is working properly, we'd want to hand over. The commission would also be responsible for recognising death, deciding about maybe a memorial, compensation, other legal aspects, say a woman who has lost her husband cannot hand the land down to her son because there is no way for her to prove her husband is dead.

Isn't this what a truth and reconciliation commission is supposed to do?

There's a lot of confusion about this. A high level body is mentioned only in the 8 November agreement, and is not explicitly included in the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA). The CPA mentions a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which can technically be a short-term body, with a mandate that could be linked with the judiciary, whereas the missing commission will function for many years to come and should have a mandate independent of judicial inquiries. The missing commission answers directly to the needs of the families of the missing people, whereas the Truth and Reconciliation Commission helps a society to come to terms with its past.

What do the families want?

We work to help families move forward. Some demand justice and push for just compensation. Others don't demand justice in the human rights sense but require recognition. Society has different opinions and certain actors in civil society have very strong opinions that may not be exactly what families think. ICRC believes the families have the right to define for themselves what they need, in order to get on with their lives.

How effective do you think the draft bill on disappearance is?

There's the draft law and existing law. Nepal is a signatory to the Geneva Convention and there are rules that are binding for Nepal. We are encouraging Nepal to sign the convention on enforced disappearance, as domestic law would have to be in line with that.

The government also has to want to implement conventions it has signed. Then there's the question of the legal system. Once you have a law, you have to be willing to use it.

How closely do you work with the NHRC?

We've always worked with the NHRC, but we've been a little confused of late about what their role is. We want to help, for example, by providing anthropological forensic expertise unavailable here and would like to know whose responsibility exhumation and forensic analyses in the case of the missing is.

The ICRC's figures for the disappeared aren't the same as those of the NHRC or OHCHR.

This issue of numbers is a little complicated. We have some 3,300 cases in our database from families of the missing who approached us during the last ten years. Over 2,000 were 'solved', one way or the other, most found alive and in detention during the conflict. We don't claim our numbers are right, within three months of our publishing the list of the 812 missing (see story), we had 125 more, and that was what we expected. But our list is up-to-date. In December, our people walked all over Nepal and met every single one of those families. The 937 people on our list are people whose families have no information about the fate of their relatives.

It's said most people on the disappeared list are probably dead.

Yes indeed, it is sadly so. You hear often of people who make up a story regarding the missing in order to collect compensation or some such. Maybe some guy ran off with his girlfriend to India, or someone lives as a refugee in Denmark and their family in the mountains don't know, or someone doesn't want to be contacted by family members. Such cases may exist. However, these are the exception. The ICRC has a long experience in armed conflict worldwide and knows that these few cases are used as a cheap excuse to avoid the sad reality of the disappeared. Mothers don't lie. The real issue is that over 900 families of the missing in Nepal are still without news.


Posted by marga at 3:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Junio 1, 2007

Nepal - Nepal Court Asks Govt to Compensate Families of 'Disappeared' People

NHRN News Desk

Kathmandu, June 1: The Supreme Court of Nepal on Friday ruled that the government pay compensation to the families of 83 persons 'disappeared' by the state.

The court has ordered the government to pay a sum of Rs 150 thousand each to the families of three disappeared persons, namely Bipin Bhandari, Dil Bahadur Rai and Rajendra Dhakal, whereas a compensation of Rs 100 thousand each has been ruled to the families of 79 other persons missing.

Justices Khil Raj Regmi and Kalyan Shrestha also ruled that the authorities pay Rs 200 thousand in compensation to the family of Chakra Bahadur Katawal, a high-school teacher from Okhaldhunga, who was killed while in detention.

The apex court also ordered the government to form a high-level commission to probe the involuntary disappearances in the country.

Disappearances of people on account of the state often occurred during the decade-long Maoist insurgency.

The families of disappeared persons had moved the apex court on different dates since 1998.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently said the whereabouts of more than 800 missing during the insurgency still remain unknown in Nepal.


Posted by marga at 5:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nepal - Disappeared, dead or alive

On 15 February Gorkhapatra carried four pages of names in fine print. They were a list of Nepalis disappeared in the conflict compiled by the International Committee Red Cross (ICRC).

The families of the 812 people on that list had no idea about the fate of their relatives. Since then, more families have come forward, and ICRC’s disappeared count stands at 937 now.

A new bill on disappearance aims to criminalise the act, but activists say it fails to address past crimes, is not in line with international norms and doesn’t treat enforced disappearance as a very serious crime.

“The bill effectively lets perpetrators of disappearance during the war off the hook,” says human rights lawyer Govinda Sharma, who until recently sat on a supreme court panel to investigate four cases of disappearance.

In its current form, the bill will not be effective retroactively and has a six-month statute of limitations which, says the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal, doesn’t reflect the ‘extreme seriousness’ of the crime or that it is ‘continuous’ (ongoing until the fate of the disappeared person are known).

The bill also does not demand institutional accountability and holds only people immediately involved in an act of enforced disappearance liable. Both OHCHR and the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ) suggest that it explicitly address the responsibility of superiors for crimes committed by subordinates and prohibit ‘just following orders’ as justification.

Hari Phuyal, a legal consultant with ICJ-Nepal says the bill is framed as an amendment to an “outdated” civil code that lacks the “modern structure and procedural provisions” that comprehensive and independent legislation on enforced disappearance needs. Phuyal says it also fails to address multiple offences involved in disappearance, such as deprivation of liberty, ill treatment, torture, right to life, fair trial, and other fundamental rights.

Nepal Army personnel alleged to have committed enforced disappearance and torture are subject only to military court jurisdiction and the bill does not require that they be tried in civilian court.

One way to address these loopholes would be for Nepal to sign and ratify the UN convention on enforced disappearances and on non-international armed conflict to the Geneva convention, which addresses disappearance, says ICRC. The interim constitution requires the government to implement treaties it is party to and because the Treaty Act states that the provisions of a treaty ratified by the government of Nepal are ‘automatically’ applicable at the national level. But Nepal is notoriously poor at implementing conventions even after they have been ratified ('Bepatta', #188, 'A climate of intense fear', #217, 'Not knowing if they are dead or alive is killing us...', #292, ‘Conventional wisdom’, #330).

“Disappeared family groups, media, and civil society must keep the pressure on for answers,” says a human rights worker. There are some divisions within the groups of people who were for a time ‘disappeared’, particularly between Maoists, and civil society activists and those secretly detained for no apparent reason. But in Bardiya, where most of the disappeared people were Tharu, families have come together regardless of who they hold responsible.

Who, how many?
The ICRC and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) maintain detailed dossiers on the missing. The ICRC only adds a name when approached by family members who have no news of their relatives. Their figures show the people still ‘missing’ are overwhelmingly male, and close to a third of them are between 18-24. Kathmandu has the most missing (119) followed by Bardiya which has close to 100.

The number of disappearances increased sharply after the army entered the conflict in November 2001 and during the state of emergency in 2002, and declined with the setting up of the OHCHR office here.

The NHRC divides its list into those disappeared by the state and those ‘abducted’ by the Maoists. The commission registered 2,105 cases of disappearance, and the status of 653 people remains unknown. Of the 814 people documented as abducted by Maoists, 158 remain missing.

The words ‘missing’ and ‘disappeared’, used interchangeably, refer to the same thing, though activists say the latter conveys a greater sense of agency. Now, ‘enforced disappearance’ is considered the most accurate description.


Posted by marga at 4:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mayo 28, 2007

Nepal - Bill tabled to amend civil code

KATHMANDU, May 27: The Government has registered a bill at the Legislature-Parliament Secretariat for bringing amendments to the Muluki Aina (Civil Code) aimed at establishing measures to check 'disappearance' of people.

The bill provides that the person who is involved in the 'disappearance' of any individual could be tried for murder in case the latter dies during the course of the disappearance.

The person who arrests, keeps under custody or control the individual who has been 'disappeared' will be regarded as the main person involved in the disappearance of the individual, it is stated in the draft bill.

Likewise, in case the person who is responsible for the disappearing of the individual concerned is not ascertained then the Chief of the Office where the individual was kept under control, custody or imprisonment before being disappeared would be regarded as the prime accused.

The bill also describes the situation where the official who has the authority to arrest as per the law, carry out investigation and interrogation or enforce the law does not allow the individual he/she has arrested or kept under any kind of control is not allowed to meet his/her family, not release information about his/her whereabouts to anyone or deprives the arrested individual from the protection he/she is entitled to as per the law as a state of 'disappearance'.

As per the draft bill, on the basis of the period and situation of disappearance, the person involved in the disappearance could be imprisoned to five years in jail and a fine of Rs. 50,000.

The person who has ordered the disappearance would also be entitled to the same level of punishment.

Similarly, the persons instigating the disappearance, involved or accomplice in the act of disappearance would be liable to half of the sentence given to the prime guilty.

As per the provisions in the Bill, in case the individual who has been disappeared reappears the person involved in the disappearance will have to compensate for the period with a fine of Rs. 500 per day and appropriate compensation in case the individual has been subjected to physical and mental torture. In case the person who has been disappeared dies, the compensation could be received by the next to kin.

Likewise, the Clause 8.b. of the Civil Code has been added in the bill to add provisions for legal punishment against those involved in kidnapping or holding people captive.


Posted by marga at 7:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mayo 27, 2007

Nepal - OHCHR Seeks Tougher Laws on Disappearance

THT Online
Kathmandu, May 27:

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the parliament to increase penalty for those involved in forced disappearances.
The OHCHR-Nepal also demanded that time period for filing disappearance cases in court be extended, taking into account extreme seriousness of the crime. It also suggested the government to provide adequate reparations to victims dependants of disappeared persons and immediate family.

The "Disappearance Bill", which has been pending in the parliament, should explicitly state that civilian courts will have jurisdiction over all persons alleged to have committed forced disappearances, including Nepalese Army personnel, the OHCHR-Nepal said in a statement.
International human rights standards require that ordinary civilian courts exercise jurisdiction over military personnel, who commit serious human rights violations.
"Forced disappearance is amongst the most serious human rights violations, and extremely traumatic for family members of the victims. The criminalisation of forced disappearance is an encouraging step towards bringing perpetrators to justice," Lena Sundh, the representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, said in the statement.
"However, a comprehensive law on forced disappearance, which encompasses relevant international human rights standards, will be an even stronger indication that the government of Nepal is serious about ending impunity and ensuring accountability."


Posted by marga at 6:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mayo 24, 2007

Cruz Roja urge a Nepal que forme comisión sobre desaparecidos en la guerra

El Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja (ICRC) exigió hoy al Gobierno nepalí que se forme una comisión que aclare el destino del millar de desaparecidos durante la guerra en ese país a la que un acuerdo puso fin ahora hace seis meses.

Uno de esos desaparecidos es Hiramani Dahit, un carpintero de un pequeño pueblo del suroeste nepalí que fue detenido por el Ejército el 13 de abril de 2001 y nadie ha vuelto a saber de él ni de los casi mil desaparecidos en la contienda.

En una mesa redonda celebrada hoy sobre los desaparecidos, el Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja (ICRC) exigió al Gobierno que se forme la comisión que, según el acuerdo de paz, habría de aclarar el destino de esas personas y dar consuelo a sus familias.

Según el ICRC, hay 937 desaparecidos de la década de guerra, en la que otras 13.000 personas murieron.

De ellos, al menos 656 fueron detenidos por el Ejército, como Dahit, y otros 161 por la guerrilla maoísta, de acuerdo con datos de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (NHRC).

Dahit fue detenido por un grupo de soldados cuando volvía del trabajo en Thakurdwara, en el distrito de Bardiya, pero cuando su esposa, Manju, acudió al día siguiente al cuartel local le dijeron que no estaba ahí.

'No sé por qué lo arrestaron; no era un maoísta, pero a veces ellos venían a casa y nos obligaban a alimentarlos', explicó a EFE esta mujer, que ha movido cielo y tierra para saber qué fue de su marido, sin éxito.

Unos días antes del arresto del carpintero, cinco miembros del Ejército habían muerto en una explosión en la jungla vecina, emboscados por maoístas.

Otras 12 personas desaparecieron del pueblo junto a Dahit, entre ellas su hermano, Ram, un albañil, al que los soldados detuvieron en su casa una noche tres meses después, diciéndole que se lo llevaban para interrogarlo.

Su mujer, embarazada entonces, no se atrevió a preguntar por él temiendo correr la misma suerte y supo, por una información de la radio estatal unos días después, que Ram había 'muerto en un combate'.

'Pero no hemos visto su cadáver', denunció Manju, quien relató que su cuñada perdió al bebé a los dos días de dar a luz.

'Creo que mi marido aún está vivo. Quiero saber dónde está', exigió Manju.

El padre de Krishna Kumar Chaudhary, un maestro del mismo distrito, desapareció a principios de 2002. Su hijo no cree que siga vivo pero quiere 'saber por qué lo mataron y que los culpables lo paguen'.

El acuerdo de paz suscrito el 21 de noviembre de 2006 prevé crear una comisión de alto nivel para saber qué fue de los desaparecidos, pero tanto el Gobierno como los maoístas temen que se identifique a los culpables, afirmó a EFE el abogado Govinda Sharma Bandi, quien investiga las desapariciones a manos del Ejército.

Lo único que el nuevo Gobierno -en el que están incorporados los maoístas- ha hecho es presentar al Parlamento una ley que convierte en delito retener a una persona sin informarle del motivo y privándole de visitas de familiares.

'Pero la falta de interés por atender el asunto de los desaparecidos es obvia, porque la ley no es retroactiva', destacó Bandi.

En la misma línea, la representante de la ACNUR en Nepal, Sandra Beidas, criticó que 'la falta de avance en la resolución del destino de los desaparecidos y en la atención del derecho de sus familias a que se haga justicia plantea interrogantes sobre si existe la intención política de emprender una acción efectiva'.

Para la jefa de la delegación del ICRC en Nepal, Mary Werntz, el reto del Gobierno es mantener a los desaparecidos en el centro del debate, pero éste 'no debería convertirse en un asunto político, sino mantenerse en el plano humanitario'.

La Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos ha investigado una serie de desapariciones de personas detenidas por el Ejército y ha pedido al Gobierno que haga público su paradero, 'que investigue a los responsables y adopte medidas contra ellos', según uno de sus miembros, Shyam Babu Kafle.

'Pero el Gobierno no ha hecho nada', dijo Kafle a EFE.

Portavoces del recién creado Ministerio para la Paz y la Reconstrucción y de Interior consultados por EFE dijeron que el asunto está fuera de sus competencias.

De formarse la comisión prevista por el acuerdo de paz, aún está por ver si su mandato permite el procesamiento de los culpables u opta por el perdón y el olvido.

Posted by marga at 5:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mayo 21, 2007

Nepal Govt urged to make whereabouts of `disappeared` people public

Kathmandu, May 21: Nepal's former prisoners of conscience have demanded the government make public the whereabouts of "disappeared" people from the barracks of the military's infamous Bhairavnath battalion, accused of torturing and killing innocents under the direction of the then Army General Pyar Jung Thapa.

In a meeting attended by top Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai and minister Matrika Yadav, at least 40 former prisoners of conscience appealed to the government to make public the whereabouts of those who "disappeared" from the custody of Bhairavnath battalion.

"Friends, who were in Bhairavnath, have been killed under the direction of the then Army General Pyar Jung Thapa," said Krishna KC, one of the former prisoners of conscience while appealing to human rights activists and media to put pressure on the government to disclose the whereabouts of those who "disappeared" from Bhairavnath.

He asked why the interim government has not been able to make public the whereabouts of hundreds of prisoners. "Who should answer this question King Gyanendra or Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala?" Krishna read out the names of 47 people, who had disappeared from Bhairavnath.

"They have disappeared, and the war criminals have not been punished. Why is the government quiet?" asked Bina Magar, another prisoner recalling her days in Bhairavnath.

The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had submitted its report on the Bhairavnath saga to the government earlier.

Maoist leaders Bhattarai and Yadav regretted that the status of the prisoners has not yet been made public. "We are sad and can't do anything for friends, but the revolution has not ended, we are ready to be killed but would not bow down," Bhattarai was quoted as saying by Himalayan Times Online.

Bureau Report


Posted by marga at 4:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mayo 15, 2007

Red Cross urges Nepal to find missing war victims

Tue May 15, 2007 1:20AM EDT

KATHMANDU, May 15 (Reuters) - Nepal's interim government, which includes former Maoist rebels, must set up a panel to find hundreds of people who went missing during the decade-long civil war, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

Rights groups blame the poorly trained military and the former guerrillas for human rights violations, including the unexplained disappearances of almost 1,000 people, during the war in which more than 13,000 people died.

A November peace deal between the government and the Maoists that ended the conflict promised a high-level commission to investigate the disappearances but it has yet to be formed.

"The ICRC stands ready to provide its experience and expertise in this area and calls for action by the government to work towards resolution of this painful humanitarian issue," the group said in a statement late on Monday, on the eve of the International Day of Families.

In February, the ICRC published a list of 812 people, including women, who went missing due to the conflict. Another 131 families have since complained of missing relatives, the Geneva-based agency added.

Under the landmark power-sharing deal, the Maoists have joined a provisional parliament and have been included in an interim government.

They have also disarmed their fighters and sent them to U.N. monitored camps.

Posted by marga at 4:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mayo 14, 2007

Nepal: Widespread disappearances still unresolved despite peace

KATHMANDU, 13 May 2007 (IRIN) - Shanta Bhandari says she has been desperately searching for her son, Bipin, since 2002 when he was arrested by government security forces and disappeared. "We want to wage a war against this government," said Bhandari.

Thousands of families of missing persons have said that they will begin a nationwide demonstration for an indefinite period starting on Monday as they are frustrated by what they say is the government's apathy and negligence towards them.

"There seems to be no other way out. Now we are taking to the streets to pressure this government to take some initiative to find our sons and daughters," Bhandari told IRIN.

According to local NGO the Society of the Families of the Disappeared, there are more than 5,000 people still missing after their forced disappearances during the country's civil war, which lasted for more than a decade.

A November 2006 peace agreement brought a truce, ended the King's direct rule, and disarmed Maoist rebels who later joined a coalition government with seven other national parties.

The new government promised the families of missing persons that it would reveal the status of all their disappeared relatives, said Bhandari.

World's highest number of disappearances

During the breakdown of peace talks in 2001 and 2003, the government arrested or abducted anyone it thought was a Maoist. Maoist rebels did the same for anyone they deemed a government spy. During these years, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said Nepal had the highest number of disappeared people in the world.

"The government's seriousness towards this issue is lacking and despite calls to form a higher level commission [to look into the matter of the diappeared] with members including the families of the disappeared persons, it has done nothing," said Shyam Bahadur Kafle, protection officer of the Disappearance and Abduction unit of Nepal's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

UN and aid agencies concerned

The United Nation's human rights agency (OHCHR) in Nepal said it was concerned about the government's delay in resolving the issue of the disappeared.

"Delays in setting up proper, independent inquiries to clarify the fate of all the disappeared is simply prolonging the agony of their families - who do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones or what happened to them - as well as denying them the right to truth and justice," said Lena Sundh, OHCHR Nepal representative.

Earlier this month, OHCHR officials called on the Nepalese government to fulfill its commitment by holding broad consultations with civil society and other interested parties in order to establish an independent commission to look into the cases.

The Maoists, too, have failed to respond to the request of rights groups to reveal the names of people they had abducted, said NHRC officials.

"We don't want any more disappearances and we don't want more people to suffer like us," said Bhandari. She and other mothers of the disappeared recently met senior army officers dealing with human rights issues but the officers failed to give them convincing answers, said Bhandari.

When approached by IRIN, the army officers were unavailable to comment on the issue.

Human rights activists are appalled at the government's lack of action.

"It's shocking that despite such a high number of disappearances, not a single case has been tried or any perpetrators brought to justice despite evidence against them," said prominent human rights lawyer Mandira Sharma from Advocacy Forum, which has been actively fighting a system of impunity over the past few years.

Posted by marga at 4:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Abril 23, 2007

Nepal criminalizará las desapariciones forzadas

El gobierno de Nepal está por reformar el código civil de tal nación para incorporar los delitos de secuestro y desaparición forzadas. Ninguno de los dos estaba previamente criminalizado. La ley definirá a la desaparición como un acto que prevee a los familiares de los detenidos de saber su paradero después de expirar el período legal de la detención. Además, cualquier acto que depriva a los detenidos de sus derechos legales será considerado una desaparición. Igualmente el acto de detener o capturar a individuos forzadamente o con amenzas será un secuestro. El proyecto de ley impone 5 años de cárcel más una multa para los culpables de desapariciones, y 12 años de cárcel y una multa para los culpables de secuestros. No es claro si este proyecto de ley cubrirá las desapariciones forzadas que ya han tenido lugar.

De acuerdo a la Cruz Roja Internacional más de 800 personas han sido desaparecidas, mayormente en manos de las fuerzas de seguridad, desde que comenzó el conflicto con los Maoistas en 1996.

Para más información ver nota anterior (en inglés).

Posted by marga at 6:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nepa: Anti-disappearance laws in the offing


KATHMANDU, April 23 - The government is set to amend the existing Civil Code to incorporate anti-disappearance and abduction provisions, a move many believe is a response to the call of national and international human rights community.

Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has prepared a draft bill to amend the Civil Code for the 12th time and has sent it to parliament for enactment.

The proposed legal provisions in the draft clearly state that disappearance and abduction are crimes and are subject to imprisonment and fine.

This is the first time, Nepal is preparing to adopt such laws since there is no specific law as of now to deal with disappearance and abduction cases. More interestingly, abduction and disappearance are still out of the domain of crime under the existing laws of the land.

The bill defines disappearance as an act that prevents the family of detainees from knowing his/her whereabouts after the expiry of the legal detention period. Besides, any act depriving detainees from his/her legal rights in detention will also be considered as disappearance.

Similarly, the bill states that any act of detaining/capturing individuals forcefully or by showing weapons, or by issuing threats is abduction.

The bill has proposed up to five years imprisonment and Rs 50,000 fine as punishment to perpetrators of disappearance. Similarly, the crime of abduction is subject to 12 years imprisonment and Rs 100,000 in fine, according to the bill.

The national and international human rights community has been demanding such laws to deal with disappearances and abductions for a long time. But successive governments hadn't taken their call so seriously till date.

The draft bill is definitely good news for the human rights community. But the proposed bill has remained silent on whether it will be applicable to the outstanding disappearance and abduction cases.

According to National Human Rights Commission, 612 people have remained missing in the hands of security forces, while 182 are in the hands of Maoists since the beginning of armed insurgency in 1996. The International Committee of Red Cross puts this figure at over 800.


Posted by marga at 6:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The OHCHR-Nepal has called on the interim government to establish a commission to investigate disappearances during the conflict.

"The OHCHR-Nepal remains concerned about the continuing uncertainty regarding investigations into the allegations of torture and disappearances from the Bhairabnath Battalion barracks in 2003. Almost one year from the date that OHCHR presented its report on these cases to the Government, a full and independent inquiry has yet to be established. The report of the Nepalese Army special investigation has never been published, nor, despite repeated requests, did the Nepalese Army provide OHCHR-Nepal with a copy," it states in a press release.

It also notes the "unprecedented investigations carried out by the Supreme Court Task Force into the arrest and forced disappearance of Rajendra Dhakal, Bipin Bhandari and Dil Bahadur Rai, and Chakra Bahadur Katuwal in 1999, 2002 and 2001 respectively. The Task Force presented its report to the Supreme Court on 8 April 2007. It concluded that there was a general practice of arbitrary arrest, torture, murder and systematic and widespread enforced disappearances as part of a state counterinsurgency program during the conflict. It also concluded that members of the security forces were responsible for the arrests, and named individual security force members as responsible for the four disappearances, as well as in one case the death in custody."

The press release adds that the OHCHR-Nepal hopes that full and independent criminal investigations will be conducted in these and other disappearance cases, and lead to those responsible being held accountable, including those persons who had command responsibility. "In its report, the Task Force also recommended, inter-alia, that the Supreme Court issue a directive to the Government to set up a high level commission of inquiry into disappeared persons. The eight parties had agreed to the formation of a high level commission of inquiry to look into the disappeared in their agreement of 8 November 2006. In its Common Minimum Program, the Interim Government gave a commitment to investigate the fate of those who disappeared during the conflict. OHCHR-Nepal is calling on the Interim Government to fulfill this commitment by holding broad consultations with civil society and other stakeholders in order to establish a credible, competent, independent commission to look into those who disappeared after arrest by security forces or abduction by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Such a commission should have powers to order access to documents and subpoena individuals to appear before them. The outcome of the commission's work should be made public, but should not substitute for prosecutions."

Lena Sundh, Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, said, "Delays in setting up proper, independent inquiries to clarify the fate of all the disappeared is simply prolonging the agony of their families, who do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones or what happened to them, as well as denying them the right to truth and justice."

Posted by marga at 6:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack