The United Nations human rights office today voiced concern over a reported request by the Nepalese Army to the Government to promote a senior military officer, Colonel Raju Basnet, implicated in serious crimes and human rights abuses.
“We urge the Government of Nepal to ensure that no further decisions regarding extension in tenures or promotions of officials implicated in such cases are taken until the completion of full, transparent and impartial investigations,” a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.
“Lack of accountability for army officials implicated in alleged past human rights violations not only damages the credibility of the Nepal Army but also sends a public message that undermines the rule of law in Nepal,” he added.
On 26 May 2006, OHCHR released the report of its investigation into the alleged arbitrary detention, torture and disappearance of persons at Maharajgunj Barracks, in Nepal, between 2003 and 2004. During the investigation, OHCHR received consistent, credible and corroborated testimony of arbitrary detention, torture and disappearances.
“Most of the hundreds of individuals who were arrested by the RNA [Nepal Army] in 2003 and detained for varying periods in Maharajgunj barracks were subjected to severe and prolonged ill-treatment and torture,” the report stated.
Throughout this period the barracks were under the control of the Bhairabnath Battalion, commanded by then-Lieutenant Colonel Raju Basnet – for whom the country’s military has reportedly requested a promotion to the rank of Brigadier-General.
Mr. Colville said that the human rights community, including the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal and OHCHR, has “repeatedly called for a credible, competent, impartial and fully independent investigation into the alleged violations committed in Maharajgunj Barracks and other similar incidents.”
He noted that the international community has also recommended that State personnel against whom there are credible allegations of involvement in human rights violations be suspended pending proper investigations.