Probe deaths during protests in plains: HRW to govt

HRW report states police dragged 14-year-old Nitu Yadav out of his hiding place and shot him dead

Kathmandu, October 16

Nepali authorities should immediately investigate and bring to justice those responsible for killings and rights violations during ongoing protests over the constitutional debate, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

At least 45 people were killed during the protests in August and September.

The violence included the use of arbitrary and disproportionate force, and extrajudicial killings by the police against protesters, killing of children and murders of police officers, HRW stated in its release.

“While the drafting of a rights-respecting constitution is an emotional issue in Nepal, disagreements cannot be resolved by committing serious human rights abuses,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government has the responsibility to ensure there are impartial and effective investigations and cannot simply look the other way.”

Adams said in the report that Nepal’s new leadership should take immediate steps to stem the tide of abuse that had overtaken Nepal in the last few months. “The government needs to order investigations and publicly call on all security forces to desist from any excessive use of force,” he added.

The 44-page report, Like we are not Nepali: Protest and police crackdown in the Tarai Region of Nepal, documents Human Rights Watch investigations into the killings of 25 people, including 16 members of the public and nine police officers, in five Tarai districts between August 24 and September 11.

Human Rights Watch said in the report that it found no evidence that any of these victims were posing a threat at the time that they were killed.

Human Rights Watch’s report documents the killing of nine police officers, eight of them on August 24 in Tikapur, when some protesters encircled and attacked a small group of outnumbered policemen with handmade weapons.

HRW said it found credible reports of serious human rights violations after the government deployed security forces to contain the protests. “In all five districts Human Rights Watch visited, researchers documented eyewitness accounts of police abuses that included breaking into homes to beat occupants, including women and elderly; using racial insults during violent incidents or threatening to kill members of the public; arbitrarily beating passers-by; and harassing villagers belonging to communities opposing the new constitution,” HRW said in its report.

HRW said police used excessive and indiscriminate force, with numerous witnesses describing the police killing unarmed protesters instead of arresting them.

HRW, quoting witnesses, said in its report that 14-year-old Nitu Yadav, who was among the protesters, had attempted to hide from the police in bushes but police dragged Yadav out of his hiding place, threw him to the ground, and, while an officer stood on his legs, shot him in the face at point-blank range.

HRW quoted witnesses that another unarmed protester, Sanjay Chaudhari, was shot in the back as he attempted to flee. He died shortly after reaching the hospital.

“Officials have yet to ensure that police and security forces are held to account for abuses,” HRW said in its report.