UN official concerned about delay in providing justice to Nirmala Panta

Kathmandu, November 29

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences Dubravka Simonovic today said Nepali women were facing big problems getting justice in VAW cases. Speaking at a press conference at UN House here today, Simonovic made special reference to 13-year old Nirmala Panta’s rape and murder case to highlight problems of access to justice.

Even after four months since Nirmala was raped and murdered, the police is clueless about the perpetrator(s). “I am gravely concerned about the number of cases related to sexual violence against women and girls, such as the case of Nirmala Panta, among others, that have been referred to the police or the courts for redress, have resulted in impunity for the perpetrators,” Simonovic said.

She said the ongoing case of the rape and murder of Nirmala Panta was a test case for the government and she would closely follow any developments in the case in the hope that it would be effectively resolved in line with the human rights standards adopted by Nepal.

Women and girls do not have adequate rights and there is no mechanism to protect whatever rights they have, she said. She said she had heard numerous complains related to sexual violence that were reported but not properly registered.

“There is the case of Nirmala Panta and others cases as well. Civil society pointed out that there are other cases where they have a problem with access to justice,” Simonovic said, adding that she would submit her final report on VAW at the UNHRC on June 19.

It will be important to see in Nirmala Panta case how at the end, the government will really apply international laws and shoulder  its responsibility to provide justice to the victim and punishment for the criminal, she added.

Non- governmental organisation and people have protested seeking justice for Nirmala, Simonovic said. She said she had collected information from the government and the NHRC about Nirmala’s incident.

She said she would like to see how the government would apply international norms in Nirmala’s case. “The Government has to take total responsibility in cases like this (Nirmala case). She stressed that the Government of Nepal should implement international laws that it had signed in international fora. She said there was implementation gap in Nepali laws adding that there were laws that still discriminated against women in Nepal.

Simonovic, who came here on November 19 as an independent expert assigned by UN Human Rights Council for laws, policies and preventative services to study about VAW, finished her assignment today.

She met government officials including Minister of Women, Children and Senior Citizens Tham Maya Thapa, Supreme Court Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla, civil society members, officials of international agencies and members of the National Human Right Commission, survivors of violence to discuss VAW and challenges facing the victims.