Govt urged to investigate custodial deaths


Authorities of the Government of Nepal must open an independent and impartial investigation of all incidents of custodial deaths, Amnesty International Nepal said today as it launched a new local campaign as part of its annual human rights letter-writing programme, ‘Write for Rights’.

On June 10, 23-year-old Shambu Sada Musahar was found dead inside the detention room of Dhanusha District Area Police Office.

Police said he died due to kidney failure. His family disputed this, saying he was tortured to death.

On July 22, Raj Kumar Chepang, 24, died after allegedly being beaten up by a security personnel stationed inside Chitwan National Park. Likewise, on August 26, Bijay Ram Mahara, 19, a resident of Rautahat, who had been arrested on murder charge died while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Birgunj.

His family too believes he was tortured.

In the last six months, there have been at least six reported incidents of custodial deaths, according to media reports. Neither Nepal Police nor the Office of the Attorney General has maintained any record of such deaths, said AI Nepal.

“Increasing cases of reported custodial deaths is a cause of great concern and is emblematic of flaws in Nepal’s criminal justice system that compromises the rights of detainees, particularly those belonging to marginalised groups,” said Nirajan Thapaliya, director of AI Nepal, in a press release.

Despite criminalisation of torture in Nepal by the new Country Criminal Code-2017, researches have shown that the practice of torture continues.

As per the existing law, any person found guilty of inflicting torture shall be punished with five years of imprisonment or fine up to 50,000 rupees or both.

However, no individual has been prosecuted under this law till date.

“Nobody should be subjected to any form of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under any circumstances.

It should be a matter of extreme diligence on the part of the State authorities whose duty it is to ensure the protection of its citizens to guarantee that those who are in custody are afforded due care, attention and humane treatment regardless of the reason for their detention,” said Thapaliya.

Through this campaign, AI Nepal will be urging Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and all other agencies concerned to launch a set of actions designed to ensure fair investigation of all incidents of custodial deaths and those guilty of inflicting torture and causing subsequent deaths of detainees and to hold those responsible accountable.