CoAS move raises OHCHR hackles

KATHMANDU: Representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights-Nepal (OHCHR-N) Richard Bennett today expressed concern about the Chief of Army Staff’s recommendation to promote Major General Toran Jung Bahadur Singh as the Lieutenant General of Nepali Army.

Bennett today met Defence Minister Bidhya Bhandari and expressed his displeasure at the move.

“The OHCHR-N acknowledges and appreciates the important contribution made

by the Nepali Army in several United Nations peace-keeping missions which obligate peace keepers to maintain the highest standard of human rights compliance,” the OHCHR-N said in a press statement issued here today.

On 26 May 2006, the OHCHR-N released a report of its investigation into arbitrary detention, torture and disappearance at Maharajgunj Barracks, which was under the control of the Bhairavnath Battalion, the one with bad human rights record.

“Singh was reportedly the commander of the 10th Brigade in 2003-2004 when these human rights violations occurred,” the release stated.

“The commander knew or ought to have known about these actions by the battalions under the command of the 10th Brigade,” the OHCHR-N had stated in its report.

The OHCHR-N had recommended the suspension of persons, implicated directly or through command responsibility for units involved, from

any official duties pending the investigation.

The rights watchdog also suggested prohibiting such persons from participating in UN peacekeeping missions.

“Given these serious and credible allegations, the government should investigate into Maj Gen Singh’s role in the rights violations before taking a decision on his promotion,” the release quoted Bennett as saying.