Kathmandu, February 20
Thirteen victims of torture were documented in prisons and police custody rooms across the country in 2019, according to Nepal Human Rights Year Book released by Informal Sector Service Centre yesterday.
According to the INSEC report, trend of inflicting torture in prisons and custody rooms has been prevalent for a long time. Though incidents of torture meted out to crime suspects by police are declining gradually, they have yet to be eliminated.
“It is a matter of concern whether it is really decreasing or victims are not coming forward with complaints,” the report reads.
The constitution guarantees rights against torture as fundamental right. Nepal is party to the UN Convention against Torture-1984, which mandates to institutionalise effective legal mechanism to end torture. Courts and the National Human Rights Commission review complaints of torture. Jails and detention centres are regularly monitored by the NHRC, the Office of the Attorney General and various human rights organisations.
The OAG monitored 37 jails in 2019 and said that inmates and detainees were kept at the same place. It had monitored the jails using a set of indicators including structure, capacity, air circulation, quality of roofing, sanitation and cleanliness and security arrangements.
It found that there were 7,243 inmates in the jails monitored, whose total capacity was 3,860. It also said the distance of jails from courts had made it difficult to present inmates for hearings and meetings with lawyers.
Monitoring of 37 detention centres at 52 police offices had revealed lack of bathrooms, toilets and beds. OAG also found that lack of vehicles had made it difficult to transport inmates to hospitals and courts. The report said placement of health workers at jails and medicine supply were inadequate.
Lack of visiting rooms had infringed on privacy in meetings of inmates with family and lawyers, and many jails had no facilities for skill oriented training and educational activities.
There was also lack of clarity of law on senior citizens to release them in accordance with the law.
Jails staffers lacked motivation and were inadequate in number for meeting their legal obligations towards inmates.
According to INSEC, Banke District court had issued an order to police barring them from physical and mental torture of Dan Bahadur Fathera and family, after his release on bail.
Other challenges include lack of independent monitoring mechanism to prevent torture and inadequate security arrangements for victims and witnesses, according to the report. Health check-up at arrest and upon release also remain to be enforced at jails.
A version of this article appears in print on February 21, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.