World watchdog condemns rights activists’ harassment

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 6:

The Observatory for Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture and the International Federation for Human Rights has condemned harassment of human rights defenders and journalists by the security forces.

The international watchdog has expressed concern over the “ill-treatment” of Naman Kumar Shahi, representative of Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) and journalist Bhupendra Shahi, district chairman of Journalist Forum and the district president of Human Rights and Peace Society (HURPES).

The security forces in civilian clothes reportedly manhandled them at 3 pm on January 2 in Dailekh district. They had gone to Dailekh to investigate the killing of Dil Bahadur Rana by the Maoists. Rana was a member of the District Working Committee of Nepali Congress and secretary of the independent committee of Internally Displaced Persons in the district.

The Observatory, in its statement, has urged the concerned authorities to probe the incident and punish the guilty. It is “deeply concerned with these acts of violence” which is “illustrative of the very high level of repression targeting human rights defenders and journalists within the long-standing conflict in Nepal.”

Such acts are a violation of the provisions of 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders which states that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfillment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international level.”