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  5. Nepal Under Military Rule: The Undermining of Democracy and the Constitution

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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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Recommendations
  7. 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 in Nepal;

    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.