With the expiration of the four-month unilateral ceasefire by Communist rebels in Nepal, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged all sides to avoid a renewal of the gross abuses that characterized their conflict.
“It is a tragedy for the people of Nepal that full-scale armed conflict may now resume. But there need not and must not be the same gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights standards that have been perpetrated during previous phases of the conflict,” High Commissioner Louise Arbour said in Geneva. The truce expired on 2 January.
Nepal is a party to the Geneva Conventions as well as to most international human rights treaties, while the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (Maoist) has made general commitments to observe international humanitarian law and respect rights. Ms. Arbour called on both “to declare publicly their acceptance of all that these principles, and to explain to their cadres their responsibility to respect them in practice.”
Anyone violating human rights must be held accountable, she said, including commanders.
International humanitarian law, applicable in situations of armed conflict, prohibits murder or violence to persons taking no active part in hostilities. "I remind the CPN (Maoist) that this includes government officials, the families of security forces personnel, and persons alleged to be informers,” the High Commissioner said, "and I remind the state security forces that this includes unarmed persons thought to be Maoists or to have aided the Maoists."
Nepalese law prohibits attacks against civilians and acts or threats of violence intended to spread terror among the civilian population, and it requires he parties to the conflict to distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives. But during the course of the armed conflict in Nepal, both sides committed serious violations of international humanitarian law.
The conflict has been marked by extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and abductions, attacks on public transport buses, indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, widespread torture and other crimes. Children have been killed and injured, forcibly recruited, used as informers, and arbitrarily detained and beaten.
Ms. Arbour said her office in Nepal “will be closely monitoring the conduct of both parties in the period ahead.”