Annual Report: Nepal 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Nepal 2010

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Head of state Ram Baran Yadav
Head of government Madhav Kumar Nepal (replaced Pushpa Kamal Dahal in May)
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 29.3 million
Life expectancy 66.3 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 52/55 per 1,000
Adult literacy 56.5 per cent

Nepali human rights defenders reported hundreds of killings and abductions by state forces and armed groups. Public insecurity escalated as a growing number of armed groups took violent action against civilians. The police used unnecessary and excessive force to dispel political and rights-based demonstrations. Torture of detainees was widely reported.

Background

Commitments made in Nepal's 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord to uphold civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights remained unfulfilled. Political division and proliferation of armed groups threatened the peace process. The ruling Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) government, headed by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, fell in May and was replaced by a coalition government led by Madhav Kumar Nepal. Maoist party supporters staged protests and general strikes, including a blockade of parliament. Efforts to draft a new constitution made little progress. Despite the state's declared support for the UN Draft Principles on eliminating discrimination based on work or descent (which addresses caste inequalities), discrimination against Dalits and women persisted with impunity.

Transitional justice

Efforts to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) stalled. Nepali critics of a draft TRC bill, pending since 2007, noted shortcomings, among them the proposed commission's lack of independence from political influence, inadequate witness protection, and a proposal to grant it the power to recommend amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights violations.

Enforced disappearances

Both sides of the conflict that ended in 2006 subjected people to enforced disappearances. According to the ICRC, more than 1,300 people remained unaccounted for by year's end. A draft bill criminalizing enforced disappearance lapsed in June, and a Commission of Inquiry into disappearances was not set up. The proposed bill failed both to employ a definition of enforced disappearance consistent with international law, and to recognize enforced disappearance as a possible crime against humanity. On 30 August, Amnesty International issued a joint memorandum with eight prominent Nepali and international organizations calling for improvements to bring the draft in line with international standards.

Impunity

Impunity continued for perpetrators of human rights abuses during the conflict – no cases were tried before a civilian court. Survivors of violations reported that police refused to file complaints or investigate cases. The authorities failed to implement court ordered arrests of military personnel accused of human rights violations.

  • In December, the government promoted a high ranking army officer implicated in human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, during the conflict. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed particular concern about this, and opposed his promotion pending investigation.

Police abuse

Police continued to employ unnecessary and excessive force to quell demonstrations, including beating protesters with lathis (long wooden sticks) and gun butts. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, and killings of people suspected of being affiliated with armed groups in faked "encounters", were reported.