The government has claimed that cases of torture have declined remarkably in the past few years.

A total of 16, 27, 19 and eight cases of torture were filed with the district courts in the fiscal years 2015- 16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 respectively.

Departmental action was taken against 158 police personnel and 22 armed police force personnel for neglect and violation of human rights.

According to the Universal Periodic Review Report (3rd Cycle) of Nepal submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council on 12 October 2020, the constitution ensures the right against torture and prohibits subjecting arrested or detained persons to physical or mental torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

Any such act is punishable by law and entails compensation to the victim. Torture and inhuman treatment have been criminalised by the penal code. Moreover, the penal code provides that the plea of superior order does not relieve the person from criminal responsibility.

Similarly, the penal code explicitly criminalises the act of enforced disappearance in compliance with the relevant international instruments.

In fiscal 2018-19, eight cases of enforced disappearance were filed in the district courts.

In a bid to control or prevent the use of force, law enforcement officials are under obligation to strictly comply with the principles of proportionality and necessity while carrying out their duties, the report said. According to the report, use of firearms is strictly regulated by law.

Code of Conduct of law enforcement officials is integrated as part of their respective service laws, which are binding on them. The Local Administration Act-1971 empowers the chief district officers, civilian district administrators to prevent any activity that may potentially lead to violence or riot.

"Security officers must obtain prior order from the concerned CDO before using firearms. The condition where firearms may be allowed to use is explicitly provided in the act.

The Constitution and National Criminal Procedure Code ensure the right against arbitrary arrest and detention. All the complaints or reports of extra-judicial killings have been duly investigated, prosecuted and penalised through the competent authority in accordance with the prevailing laws. The victim's families have been provided relief or compensation," it says.

On conditions of detention centres and prisons, the report stated that new prison infrastructure was being built in various districts with the provision of separate blocks or rooms for men, women, differently-abled persons and LGBTIs with required facilities.

An open prison building, with the capacity to hold 300 prisoners, has been constructed in Banke.

New buildings have been built and operated in six districts, structural capacity of nine prisons have been enhanced and five new prison blocks are being built. Central prison, with total capacity of 7,000 prisoners, is under construction in Nuwakot. A new bill related to prisons is under consideration in the House of Representatives.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 18, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.