Impunity for abuses in Nepal encourages those who seek to use violence – UN

17 February 2009
Richard Bennett of the human rights office (OHCHR)  in Nepal  (file Photo)

United Nations human rights officials have called on the Nepalese Government to ensure full army cooperation with police and judicial authorities in bringing to justice the former royal army personnel who tortured and killed a 15-year-old girl five years ago.

“The lack of progress in the case of Maina Sunuwar is emblematic of the overall lack of accountability for human rights violations which occurred both during and after the conflict in Nepal between 1996 and 2006,” the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) said in a news release issued yesterday, referring to the decade-long war between the then Royal Nepalese Army and Maoist guerrillas.

“The case of Maina Sunuwar is not only about the torture and killing of one person. The continued impunity for conflict-related violations sends a message that political violence carries with it no consequences and thus emboldens those who seek to use violence to further their criminal and political agendas today.”

The office “encourages the Government, once again,” to ensure that the army cooperate fully, including turning over court-martial documents and making two of the alleged perpetrators who continue to serve available for investigation and arrest by the relevant authorities.

Justice has also been denied to the families of five students in Dhanusha District and hundreds of persons in Bardiya abducted and disappeared during the conflict, and to the families of more recent victims, the office said.

“OHCHR-Nepal encourages the Government to take prompt action to investigate and prosecute these incidents, to ensure that police and prosecutors’ offices have sufficient resources and receive all necessary cooperation,” it added.

OHCHR-Nepal Representative Richard Bennett stressed that the country has made remarkable strides since the beginning of the peace process, which ended the conflict and subsequently replaced the monarchy with a republic.

“However, lack of accountability and a widespread perception that human rights violators are not subject to the rule of law threatens to undermine the many successes of the process so far,” he said. “The successful prosecution of human rights violators, including in the case of Maina Sunuwar, will demonstrate to all Nepalis, and to the world, that the Government is fully committed to justice as an integral component of durable peace and stability.”


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