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Top UN rights official says all sides must end deadly violence in Nepal

Top UN rights official says all sides must end deadly violence in Nepal

Louise Arbour
Expressing deep concern over deadly violence in the south-eastern Terai region of Nepal, the top United Nations human rights official today said it was “imperative” for all sides to stop the clashes, which have claimed at least 23 lives, caused countless injuries and destroyed property.

“Our human rights officers who have been monitoring events in the Terai have observed violence by protestors, as well as incidents of excessive use of force by the Armed Police Force and the Nepal Police,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, who last month completed a five-day mission to the impoverished Himalayan country where a landmark peace deal was signed in November seeking to ended a decade of civil war.

“During my recent visit to Nepal I was encouraged by progress that had been made in human rights since April 2006,” she said. “The current deterioration in the situation is deeply disturbing. It is imperative that all parties do all they can to stop the violence as well as to address the issue of discrimination and representation.”

Ms. Arbour called on the Government to abide by its international human rights obligations and also on the organizers of the demonstrations and their followers to employ only peaceful means of protest. She also urged all sides not to hinder the work of medical, human rights staff and others going about their essential business.

“Clear instructions should be given by police officials and by demonstration leaders that the work of human rights defenders and journalists are not to be impeded in any way. Medical personnel must also be able to function without hindrance.”

The High Commissioner called calling on “the leaders and their cadres to allow free access and freedom of movement to all UN staff to enable them to carry out their work in all locations and under any circumstances.”

Ms. Arbour also called for all excluded groups to be represented in the political process, saying this was key to Nepal’s transition. On 21 November, the Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed a peace agreement aimed at ending 10 years of civil war that killed approximately 15,000 people and displaced over 100,000 others.

“Ending discrimination and ensuring appropriate representation of excluded groups at all level of decision-making during this critical time will be essential to the success of Nepal’s political transition,” she said, welcoming the recent initiatives to start engaging all parties in dialogue to resolve the current situation in the Terai and voicing hope that talks will immediately replace violence as the way forward.

Last week, the World Food Programme (WFP) in Nepal appealed to all parties in the Terai region to allow safe passage for food convoys, warning that transport strikes and violence had severely disrupted aid deliveries and threaten the health of hundreds of thousands of people, including children.