FOCUS March 2005 Volume 39
Nepal Under Military Rule: The Undermining of Democracy and the Constitution
6th Appeal from the Nepalese Human Rights Community
March 28, 2005
- Appeal. On behalf of Nepal's beleaguered
civil society, we urge the member States assembled at the 61st Session
of the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to assist in establishing human rights
as a verifiable precondition for peace in Nepal.
- Lack of Improvement in Human Rights Situation. Previous CHRs
have issued strong statements regarding persistent impunity in the face of ongoing
gross and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law by both
the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) and the Maoist insurgency. Yet, the human rights
situation has continued to deteriorate. We have been victims and witnesses of
arbitrary arrests and detentions, direct and indirect threats through surveillance
and harassment, censorship of the media, as well as restrictions on freedom of
movement, assembly, and association. Civic space has been deliberately eliminated.
We are unable to investigate or report on human rights violations without putting
our own security at risk.
- Collapse of the State. Since 1 February 2005, Nepalese society
has endured its third State of Emergency since the RNA was given unified command
of security forces in 2001. An already failing State now points towards collapse
with the suspension of the Constitution, the absence of the rule of law, and
the total failure of public institutions. Security forces operate with impunity
under the arbitrary control of a Monarchy that is constitutionally unaccountable
to the judiciary.
- National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The NHRC mandate
is limited by both formal and selfimposed restrictions resulting from the climate
of intimidation and control. Formal restrictions have included travel prohibitions
against Commission members and the requirement to seek permission from military
authorities before visiting detainees in civilian facilities. Self-imposed restrictions
limit the extent to which these impositions are challenged, in addition to limiting
reporting and follow-up on serious cases, including cases involving direct threats
against NHRC officials. The recent formation of an executive High-Level Human
Rights Committee with an ambiguous mandate to "assist" the NHRC further demonstrates
Cabinet intentions to limit the independence of the NHRC.
- Creation of Armed Militia. During the last two years, State-sponsored
militias have been created in districts across Nepal, including Sarlahi, Ilam,
Nawalparasi, and Dailekh. In February 2005, the Home Minister led a delegation
of three Cabinet Ministers to Kapibastu, where they encouraged the retaliation
of civilian militias against suspected Maoist sympathizers. During the same month,
vigilante groups burned and looted entire villages in Kapilbastu. Revenge killings
began immediately thereafter. The restrictions on monitoring and reporting resulted
in delay of over one month before evidence of these violations of human rights
and international humanitarian law began to emerge.
We urge the member States to directly address the following three recommendations:
6.1. Special Rapport e u r. Adopt a resolution strongly condemning
ongoing violations of human rights and humanitarian law by both Maoist and Government
forces, establishing benchmarks for the return to the rule of law and respect
for human rights, and appointing a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation
6.2. International Human Rights Monitoring. Urge the Government
to accept an independent United Nations human rights monitoring, investigation,
and reporting mandate throughout the territory of Nepal to ensure compliance
with existing human rights and humanitarian law commitments (including HMG's
Commitment Paper of 26 March 2004). This mandate will be aimed at strengthening
the capacity of national institutions for the administration of justice and for
the defence and protection of human rights; and
6.3. Human Rights Agreement. Urge and facilitate a human rights
agreement between the Government and the Maoist insurgency as a confidence-building
mechanism and foundation for an eventual peace process.
This appeal has been submitted on behalf of 25 leading Human Rights Organizations
in Nepal. Due to the current threat to human rights defenders, the names of the
organizations have been kept confidential.
Urgent Appeal, March 28, 2005.