US report paints grim picture of rights situation

KATHMANDU: The United States (US) today said that impunity for human rights violators, threats against the media, arbitrary arrest, and lengthy pretrial detention were serious problems that Nepal is facing in the field of human rights.

In a report titled “2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”, the US Department of State stated that Maoist militias were engaged in arbitrary and unlawful use of lethal force and abduction in 2009.

“Violence, extortion, and intimidation continued throughout the year. Numerous armed groups, largely in the Tarai region in the lowland area near the Indian border, attacked civilians, government officials, members of particular ethnic groups, each other, or Maoist militias, said the report.

The report released today here further added that the Maoists returned some previously seized property as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement requires but kept other illegally seized lands and properties in their possession; they also seized additional properties.

“Maoists and Maoist-affiliated organisations continued to commit abuses during the year in contravention of the CPA. Maoists regularly extorted money from businesses, workers, private citizens, and NGOs. When individuals or companies refused or were unable to pay, Maoist recrimination was violent or implied the threat of violence, the report adds.

Referring to the fate of many of those who disappeared during the insurgency, the report blamed the Nepal government of not responding to the OHCHR report on 49 disappeared persons who had been arrested and detained at the Maharajgunj barracks in Kathmandu in 2003 on suspicion of being linked to the Maoists.

Similarly, the report has pointed out delays in the administration of justice where a severe problem and violence against women and trafficking in persons, mainly women and girls continued.

“Armed groups and political parties deliberately targeted media workers and journalists throughout the country,” it says, adding that female journalists came under particular and increasing threat.

“Several ethnic and political groups in the Tarai seized and destroyed newspapers when the papers declined to publish and highlight protester activities, halt distribution of the newspapers during strikes, or prohibit Nepali-language content in newspapers,” the report adds.