Nepal army personnel must be held accountable for rights abuses, says UN official

28 August 2009

A senior United Nations official in Nepal has stressed the need to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by members of the national army during the country’s decade-long civil war and to ensure perpetrators are held accountable.

A senior United Nations official in Nepal has stressed the need to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by members of the national army during the country’s decade-long civil war and to ensure perpetrators are held accountable.

The lack of progress on accountability for serious rights violations was a major focus of the meeting yesterday in Kathmandu between Richard Bennett, the Representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the acting Chief of Army Staff, Chhatra Man Singh Gurung.

The two discussed concerns about what OHCHR said was the Government’s failure to properly investigate cases of arbitrary detention, torture and disappearances that occurred at the Army’s Maharajgunj Barracks in 2003 and 2004.

“OHCHR once again calls upon the Government to investigate the human rights violations which occurred at Maharajgunj barracks, including the responsibility of those within the chain of command at the time,” said Mr. Bennett.

The Representative also noted that recently personnel in positions of command responsibility during the time that violations were being committed at the barracks have been recommended for promotion or extension.

He suggested that a comprehensive vetting of both Nepal Army personnel and Maoist cadres be conducted as part of the peace process “to avoid such controversies in the future,” according to a news release issued by OHCHR.

In addition, while noting the important contribution that the Nepal Army has made to UN peacekeeping missions, Mr. Bennett stated that until an independent and impartial vetting mechanism is put into place, the promotion, extension, or nomination for UN service of individuals alleged to have committed violations should be suspended.

For his part, General Gurung said the Nepal Army would punish personnel proven guilty of human rights violations, and would cooperate with “a properly constituted impartial and independent body,” such as a commission of inquiry on disappearances, set up to investigate human rights violations which occurred during the conflict.

 

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