Arbour’s report on Nepal calls for end to rights abuse

Kathmandu, October 19:

Presenting an annual report on Nepal at the UN General Assembly yesterday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louis Arbour said that “the political changes following the recent movement for democracy had a positive impact on the human rights situation in Nepal”.

The report mentions “continuing abuses by the Maoists, including abductions, ill treatment, killings and child recruitment, and violations by police and the Nepali Army”. “Such abuses, which undermine commitments expressed by the parties to respect human rights, must be brought to an end,” an OHCHR-Nepal statement issued today quoted Arbour as saying.

Arbour called on the parties concerned to “ensure that human rights remain central to the peace process.” “Any setback to the peace process risks a negative and potentially devastating impact on the human rights situation.”

“To achieve lasting peace and justice, it is essential that the parties to the conflict translate their written commitments to human rights into effective, long-lasting action,” said the report.

Arbour also stressed the need to strengthen law enforcement and administration of justice systems to establish the rule of law, protect human rights and prevent “the emergence of elements which risk undermining the peace process”.

“Effective law will also ensure a free and fair electoral process for a Constituent Assembly”.

“Holding those responsible for human rights abuses to account is essential to effectively ending the current climate of impunity at the level of the state and by the CPN-Maoist, and must be a priority,” said the report. Although some moves have been taken to address impunity, “the measures have been far from adequate.”

The report also said that Nepali Army’s investigations regarding cases of torture and disappearances are not transparent and impartial and that they continue to refuse to provide the OHCHR-Nepal with access to documents relating to military investigations and court-martial proceedings into abuses.

The OHCHR-Nepal has yet to receive a detailed response to the allegations contained in its report on torture and disappearances by the Bhairabnath Battalion and is continuing to push for an independent inquiry to look into all disappearances, it said.

It also raised serious concerns over the Maoists’ failure to clarify the fate of many individuals abducted during the conflict.

The report urged the government to design and implement a concrete and comprehensive plan to help the internally-displaced persons return home. It also called on the Maoists to ensure safe passage of the internally-displaced to their home and return their property.