Annual Report: Nepal 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Nepal 2011

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Head of state: Ram Baran Yadav
Head of government: Madhav Kumar Nepal (interim since June)
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 29.9 million
Life expectancy: 67.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 52/55 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 57.9 per cent

Nepal made little progress in ending impunity, accounting for past violations or ensuring respect for human rights. Officials actively obstructed accountability mechanisms, and commitments made by political leaders as part of the peace process were not fulfilled in practice. Torture and other ill-treatment in police custody remained widespread. Ethnic, religious and gender discrimination went largely unchallenged. Violence against women and girls persisted.

Background

Under the 2006 Peace Accord, the Constituent Assembly was tasked with writing a new Constitution addressing human rights issues at the core of Nepal's political conflict. However, the Constituent Assembly's term expired on 28 May without completing a draft. Nepal failed to elect a Prime Minister after voting numerous times; the country was governed by the caretaker government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal. Under the Public Security Act, police arrested and detained people, including peaceful Tibetan demonstrators, without any formal procedures.

Transitional justice

A long-delayed draft bill to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a requirement of the Peace Accord, was tabled in parliament in April but had not been ratified. The draft had notable shortcomings, including the proposed Commission's lack of independence from political influence and a proposal to grant it the power to recommend amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights violations.

Enforced disappearances

A draft bill criminalizing enforced disappearances and establishing a Commission of Inquiry was pending. It incorporated proposed amendments to address some of the serious shortcomings of previous drafts. The amendments included defining enforced disappearances in certain circumstances as a crime against humanity and ensuring that punishments were proportionate to the extreme seriousness of the offence. However, families of the disappeared were dissatisfied with the draft and claimed that it was prepared without adequate consultation.

  • In July, lawyers and human rights defenders working on the case of Arjun Bahadur Lama, a teacher who was abducted and killed by Maoists during the armed conflict, were threatened by Maoist supporters after a suspect in the case was refused a visa by the US embassy.
  • In September, a team led by Nepal's Human Rights Commission (NHRC), including foreign forensic experts and UN observers, exhumed the remains of four bodies thought to be those of a group of men abducted by the security forces in Janakpur in October 2003. Positive identification of the remains was pending. Despite the exhumation, investigation into the case made little progress and no one was arrested.

Impunity

Impunity persisted for perpetrators of human rights abuses during the conflict. The authorities failed to implement court-ordered arrests of military personnel accused of offences involving human rights violations; police refused to file complaints or investigate such cases.

  • The Nepal Army refused to hand over Major Niranjan Basnet, charged with the torture and murder of 15-year-old Maina Sunuwar in 2004, despite a court order. Niranjan Basnet was repatriated from a UN Mission in December 2009. The army failed to hand him over to the police upon his return and in a letter to the Defence Ministry requested that the case be withdrawn. In mid-July, an internal inquiry by the Nepal Army declared Niranjan Basnet "innocent" of the charges.

Excessive use of force

Excessive use of force by the police and military, and killings of people suspected of affiliation with armed groups in faked "encounters" were reported.