Kathmandu, March 13
There were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, states annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2020, released by the US Department of State.
On June 20, Nepal Police in Sarlahi killed a local leader of Netra Bikram Chand (Biplav)-led Communist Party of Nepal. Police reported they shot Kumar Paudel after he fired at them. A preliminary investigation by the National Human Rights Commission suggested the death was suspicious and the human rights NGO, Advocacy Forum-Nepal reported it as a staged encounter. As of September, no police personnel had been charged.
According to the report, the August-2018 case of police killing two men suspected in the kidnapping and death of an 11-year-old boy, Nishan Khadka in Bhaktapur remained unresolved. Human rights activists and local media said the suspects were already in police custody and that the police staged the encounter to justify their killing. In August 2018, the Armed Police Force opened fire in Kanchanpur on a crowd that had gathered to demand justice after a 13-year-old girl, Nirmala Panta, was raped and killed. The APF shooting resulted in the death of a 14-year-old boy and injury to 24 protestors. As of September 2019, eight police officers were suspended and two terminated based on the recommendation of the probe committee of the home ministry on the APF shooting.
The NHRC investigated the September-2018 death of Ram Manohar Yadav in police custody following his arrest a week earlier during Free Madhesh Movement. Human rights activists claimed police tortured Yadav and failed to provide adequate medical attention after he fell ill. The MoHA denied the claims but admitted Yadav was taken to four different hospitals in search of an intensive care unit. In July the Home Ministry reached an agreement to compensate the victim’s family with Rs one million and the NHRC closed the case, but no police personnel were punished.
The High-Level Enquiry Commission, formed to investigate allegations of excessive use of force by Nepal Police and APF, completed its probe in more than 3,000 complaints, received in 2017 related to protests over the promulgation of the constitution in 2015. The 2015 protests left 45 individuals dead, including nine police officers. The HLEC was disbanded after it completed its report, but the government had not made the report public by the year’s end.
The report said the condition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was bleak. The constitution prohibits torture, and the criminal code criminalises torture and enumerates punishment for torture. The Torture Compensation Act has provision for compensation to the victims of torture.
Citing human rights activists and legal experts, the report stated that police resorted to severe abuse, primarily beatings and forced confessions. Advocacy Forum-Nepal reported no evidence of major changes in police abuse trends across the country, but AFN stated that police increasingly complied with the courts’ demand for preliminary medical checks of detainees.
Both AFN and Tarai Human Rights Defenders Alliance stated that torture victims were often hesitant to file complaints due to police intimidation and fear of retribution.
A version of this article appears in print on March 14, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.