Nepal | January 18, 2021

Rights violation rampant in Nepal, says AHRC

Himalayan News Service
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The Asian Human Rights Commission today alleged that the government had been using the COVID-19 pandemic to exercise control, commit human rights violations, and deny justice to victims of human rights abuses.

According to the AHRC, the government’s control over free exercise of social media was disturbing. Reports emerged of activists and former bureaucrats targeted in social media posts by government agencies.

There are concrete evidences of violation of free speech during these months. In 2020, at least eight people who posted opinions online were arrested for ‘spreading misinformation’ or criticising the government for its handling of the Covid-19.

“The government placed restrictions on staging mass protests due to the risk of COV- ID-19. The government provided the lame excuse of complying with government policy when it disrupted protests. It is definitely the duty of the public to follow government rules and regulations, but it is also the duty and responsibility of the government to respect people’s rights while upholding compliance with government rules and regulations,” it said in a press release.

In 2020, there were mounting allegations of extrajudicial executions and deaths in custody resulting from torture. Members of marginalised communities, including Dalits, are far more likely to be tortured than members of other caste groups.

Nepal, being a state party to the Convention against Torture, and under an international legal obligation, has to refrain from using any form of torture and ill-treatment.

Article 22 of the constitution guaranteed the Right against Torture as a fundamental right while the National Penal Code, Section 165, has criminalised torture. Nepal has a legally enforceable duty to refrain from using torture plus the duty to investigate, prosecute and punish those involved in such crime.

The police usually state that such departmental actions are not enough to deter perpetrators.

However, policemen repeatedly use excessive violence along with the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment.

As per the AHRC, the year 2020 was no different for Dalits who have suffered for generations.

Discrimination against Dalits is prevalent across the country even today. The ‘murder’ of Nawaraj BK and his five friends in Rukum West on May 23 is just the tip of the iceberg.

In October, the National Human Rights Commission published the names of 286 people, including 98 police officers, 85 soldiers, and 65 former Maoist insurgents, recommendeding them for prosecution for events over the last 20 years.

Although the government sometimes made payments to victims, based on NHRC recommendations, very few of the alleged abusers have been prosecuted.

“During the ongoing COV- ID-19 pandemic, when much of the world is forced on remain inside home, uninterrupted flow of credible information is all the more essential. However, the Government of Nepal seems to be using this pandemic as an opportunity to curb the civil liberties of people,” it said.

“There is persecution of journalists, civil society activists raising issues of human rights violations during lockdown and corruption related to the purchase of medical equipment.

The government must take immediate measures to probe incidents of human rights violations with legal measures to provide justice to the victims and ensure non-repetition of such incidents,” it added.

A version of this article appears in print on December 11, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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