Torture in police custody declining

KATHMANDU, June 27 : The country recorded a slight decrease in torture during the year 2014, says an annual report by Advocacy Forum Nepal. According to the report ‘Torture in Nepal in 2014: More of the Same’ released in the capital yesterday, coinciding with International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the detainees who reported torture and ill-treatment decreased to 16.2 per cent in 2014 from 16.7 per cent the previous year.

“The case of torture and ill-treatment has dropped by 0.5 per cent in 2014,” said the report, adding, “The report is the outcome of the data collected by AF lawyers who visited detention centers of 15 districts and interviewed 1,916 detainees during the period.”

Out of the total detainees interviewed, 311 (16.2 per cent) claimed that they had been subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments during the detention. AF reports that the torture rate of 2014 is the lowest torture record since it started visiting detention centers in 2001. AF said it has been regularly visiting detention facilities for 15 years now.

The recent data shows that the torture rate has been continuously reduced for the last 11 years. Trilochan Uprety, Executive director of AF, said that torture in Nepal has decreased by 2.5 per cent every year since 2001. “There is a gradual decrease in practice of torture in recent years, nevertheless it persists due to managerial problems,” he added.

The significant decrease in trend of torture after the years of internal armed conflict is encouraging, said the report. However, the torture and ill-treatment report of 16.2 per cent of the detainees in police detention centers indicates the alarming situation of human rights in Nepal.

According to Uprety, the prevailing trend of torture demands urgent need of reform in police mechanism, policy reform in compliance with international standards, regular and consistent training and sensitisation to the principal stakeholders of criminal justice system and constructive collaboration and partnership with the national and international human rights organisations. He said he believed that the report fostered to pass the Torture Bill which is pending in the Parliament.

Chudamani Acharya, Chairperson of AF, said torture in police detentions in Kathmandu, Jhapa and Banke was high as compared to other districts. During the year 2013, the rate of torture in Kathmandu was 18.1 per cent which has increased to 26.3 per cent in 2014.

AF analysis finds that the category of the charge makes huge difference in the rate of torture. Those arrested under theft charge reported the highest percentage (38.8) of torture and ill-treatment in 2014. The potential reasons of the highest rate of torture to the theft detainees are constant pressure to police to recover the stolen property.