UN urges Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist to cooperate on minors
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal has voiced concern at growing reports that the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and associated organizations have coerced or forced persons who were under 18 years old at the time of their recruitment to return to cantonment sites of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) after they had voluntarily left.
“Forcing or pressuring young people under 18 to return to cantonment sites violates the rights of children, as well as the commitment made by the CPN-M, and the Government of Nepal, in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to immediately release minors who had been associated with a fighting force, and to provide 'necessary and proper cooperation' for their rehabilitation and reintegration,” the Office said in a statement.
In one of the cases documented by OHCHR-Nepal, two minors who left a cantonment site in Chitwan in May and returned to their homes in Makwanpur District were pursued by CPN-M cadres in order to force them to return, according to the statement.
The UN and local non-governmental organizations intervened, and “the girls were not returned to the cantonment” but on 19 November, CPN-M cadres returned to the girls' home and abducted one of them, while the other escaped.
Police officers were unable or unwilling to prevent her abduction when informed by CPN-M cadres that she would be taken to the cantonment site in Chitwan for the verification process, which is due to start within one week.
In other cases reported to OHCHR-Nepal, pressure on minors to return to cantonments has also coincided with verification exercises.
The Office also voiced concern that CPN-M cadres have threatened human rights defenders and others working to reintegrate into society minors formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups.
The Nepal Police have displayed “an unwillingness to compel the CPN-M to respect the law, despite OHCHR's intervention with officers at the district and regional levels.”
The CPN-M must abide by its peace agreement commitments, respect the rights of minors who have voluntarily started the reintegration process and not force them to return to cantonments, said the Office's Nepal Representative, Richard Bennett.
“The CPN-M must also speed up the process of formally releasing all minors still inside the cantonments so they can return to their families and civilian life," he added. “It is also essential that the Nepal Police fulfil its obligation to protect minors who have voluntarily started the process of reintegrating into society, and to ensure security for organizations and persons working to assist the reintegration of these minors.”