Police killing of three protesters in Nepal prompts UN human rights probe

Police killing of three protesters in Nepal prompts UN human rights probe

Richard Bennett of the human rights office (OHCHR)  in Nepal  (file Photo)
United Nations human rights official in Nepal announced today that it would open an investigation into the killing of three people and the wounding of seven others by Nepalese police after protesters threw rocks and stones during a demonstration in the far west of the country.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights-Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) said in a press statement that it was very concerned about the shootings, which took place in Kailali on Wednesday.

The office has confirmed that one person was fatally shot in the head, another was shot in the neck and chest and the third in the abdomen as the police tried to control a crowd that had been throwing rocks and stones at the district administration office in Kailali.

“According to international standards, law enforcement officials may only use firearms in dispersing a violent assembly to protect themselves or others against an imminent threat of death or serious injury and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve this objective,” OHCHR said.

“Intentional lethal use of firearms is permitted only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” the statement added, urging the police to begin their own independent inquiry.

Wednesday's killings occurred a day after a Nepalese journalist was beaten by a group that included Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) cadres, apparently because he had written an article critical of the party's activities.

The UN human rights office said it was concerned that although the beating occurred inside the compound at the district administration office and in the presence of both the chief district officer and superintendent of the police, authorities failed to arrest those responsible.

Earlier this week Nepal's Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country, held its historic first meeting after members were elected last month as part of the peace process following the end of the civil war.

Constituent Assembly members overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion to amend the interim constitution, proclaiming Nepal a republic and formally ending the country's 240-year-old monarchy.