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14 March 2005

War crimes in Nepal
UN urged to investigate Kapilavastu killings

New Delhi/Geneva,

Nepal has been facing grave human rights and humanitarian crisis since the declaration of emergency on 26 November 2001 but seizure of power by King Gyanendra on 1st February 2005 has further deteriorated the humanitarian crisis that needs to be effectively addressed by the 61st session of United Nations Commission on Human Rights beginning in Geneva today.

In its 50 page report, The Case for Intervention in Nepal, being submitted to the UN Commission on Human Rights today in Geneva, Asian Centre for Human Rights highlights the collapse of the edifice of the state structure of Nepal, where the Maoists control about 70% of the landscape. The number of police stations has been reduced to about 350 in 2004 from 1500 in 2001. The courts have stopped functioning in 19 hill districts and since 2002, the Supreme Court has failed to inspect the Appellate and District Courts. In March 2005, the Supreme Court announced that its review panel headed by Judge Prem Sharma is considering the reduction of the judicial staff because of lack of work, at a time when the role of the judiciary is supreme. With the imposition of Janabadi Sikshya, people’s education by the Maoists, the educational system in Nepal has collapsed.  The government has lost its capacity to provide basic health care facilities. Often the security forces and the Maoists impose ban on essential commodities like batteries, canvas shoes, cooking oil, instant noodles and medicines.

An estimated 350,000 to 400,000 Nepalese have been internally displaced from their village and millions have fled to India to escape from atrocities.

“Just because it is easier for the people of Nepal to come over to India, there are no refugee camps – a precondition for recognising a humanitarian crisis by international community”stated Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Both the Royal Nepal Army and the Maoists have perpetrated war crimes as defined under the Rome Statute on International Criminal Court resulting in the death of 11,358 persons i.e. 3.44 persons per day. In its latest report of 31 January 2005 to the forthcoming 61st session, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights accused the Maoists of perpetrating “war crimes”.

The RNA also perpetrated similar war crimes and the government of Nepal has given impunity for these war crimes. The only law enforcement personnel to have been punished since the conflict began in 1996 is Major Ram Mani Pokhrel who has recently been dismissed from service and sentenced to two years imprisonment for cold-blooded massacre of 17 Maoist cadres and two civilians at Doramba on 17 August 2003. The sentence for cold blooded murder of 19 persons which has been described by the National Human Rights Commission as violations of “the International Humanitarian Law and, and especially, the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions…, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, the Army Act, the Police Act and the Armed Police Act” is inappropriately lenient by any yardstick.

Since February 1st, extrajudicial killings have gone up exponentially. A total of 227 persons i.e. 8.41 persons per day were killed in February 2005. The RNA has been given carte blanche to perpetrated atrocities through ban on political activities, press freedom and monitoring of human rights violations by detaining human rights activists and members of the NHRC to Kathmandu valley.

The lynching of 22 alleged Maoists and burning down of about 700 houses of the alleged Maoists symphatisers in Kapilabastu district from 17 to 23 February 2005 by the RNA and vigilante groups must be investigated by an international commission of inquiry” – stated Mr Chakma. On 6 March 2005, security forces prevented a team of the National Human Rights Commission from visiting Kapilabastu to investigate the alleged human rights violations.

Among the human rights defenders, journalists have been the worst victims. Hundreds of them have lost jobs because of the ban on news broadcast in FM radios, closure of at least five newspapers, suspension of advertisement and aid to the Nepal Federation of Journalists. About a dozen remain under detention.

“While the restoration of multi-party democracy and democratic freedoms is sine-qua non, intervention against the Royal Proclamation of February 1st must go beyond restoring the status quo. Interventions must be aimed at finding a negotiated solution to the Maoist problem. National interlocutors have little influence either on the government or the Maoists, and therefore, involvement of international mediators has become indispensable.” – stated Mr Chakma

Asian Centre for Human Rights is urging members of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, especially United States, United Kingdom and India to sponsor a country resolution on the situation of human rights in Nepal at its 61st session being held in Geneva. Apart from the demand for withdrawal of emergency and release of all political detainees, human rights defenders, journalists, student leaders, academics, women rights activists, trade unionists etc, lifting of ban on peaceful political activity, press freedom and monitoring of human rights violations, the resolution should decide to;

-          Appoint a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Nepal to submit an interim report to the 60th session of General Assembly and a final report to the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the violations of human rights and humanitarian laws by the security forces and the Maoists; 

-          Urge the government of Nepal to invite setting up of the field monitoring missions by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal;

-          Establish an international commission of inquiry into the violations of the provisions of the Rome Statute on International Criminal Court both by the security forces and the Maoists

The UN Secretary General to:

-          Hold necessary consultation on the appointment of a Special Envoy for finding a peaceful solution to the Maoists crisis of Nepal; and

-          Instruct the Under Secretary General of the Department of Peace-Keeping Operations (DPKO) not to depute soldiers from Nepal for the United Nations Peace Keeping Operations;

The United Nations Treaty Bodies to:

- Immediately examine the implementation of the treaties to which Nepal is a party under emergency situation; 

The governments and donors to:

- Suspend all military assistance until the restoration of democracy and democratic freedoms and formation of multi-party national unity government for finding negotiated solution to the Maoists crisis;

- Examine the ability of the government of Nepal for delivery of humanitarian assistance and undertaking development activities in Maoists held areas and develop monitoring mechanisms to ensure proper use and delivery of humanitarian aid; and

- Impose visa restrictions on the members of the Ministerial council/members of the Royal Nepal army and freeze the assets of the royal family, senior officials, military officers and their families.


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