Nepal: UN, foreign envoys call for investigation into disappearances

9 December 2009

Foreign envoys to Nepal today called for an end to impunity for those responsible for a series of disappearances during the decade-long civil war in Nepal, one year after the United Nations issued a report calling for justice and redress.

Officials representing eight nations and the European Union, along with the representative of the UN human rights office in the Asian nation, visited Bardiya District, where at least 170 people disappeared between 2001 and 2004 during the conflict, which claimed some 13,000 lives and ended in 2006 when the Government and the Maoists signed a peace deal.

Victims of the disappearances in Bardiya were arrested and held without due process of law, according to the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal). They were also tortured, physically and psychologically, and many are presumed to have been executed, in clear violation of Nepali and international law.

Although the cases have been well documented by both OHCHR and the National Human Rights Commission and despite a 2007 ruling by Nepal’s Supreme Court, no official investigation has taken place into these serious allegations.

“Now is the time to act to account for the crimes of the past and to end impunity for those soldiers, police and Maoists implicated in these horrific crimes,” the envoys, who met with the Conflict Victims Committee and victims’ families today, said in a statement.

“It is clear that their desire for truth and justice cannot go unfulfilled.”

The officials also visited the notorious Bhada Bridge in Bhadapur, where it is alleged that nine people were summarily executed by the Royal Nepal Army in May 2002, with their bodies being buried in a sandbank.

“The long refusal of the Army, police and Maoists to cooperate has prolonged the pain of the relatives and delayed justice,” they stressed, calling on the Unified CPN-Maoist to bring to light the fate of individuals abducted by Maoists during the conflict and to cooperate with investigations.

“Similarly, we call on the Government to ensure that members of the Nepal Army and other state personnel involved in disappearances are brought to justice, and that measures are taken to protect victims and witnesses of the crimes…

“Effectively dealing with the legacy of the conflict will allow Nepal’s transition to peace, democracy and development to continue on the basis of trust, truth and reconciliation.”

The nine envoys represented Australia, Denmark, Finland, the EU, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

 

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