Ministry clarification on disappeared people unsound: OHCHR

Kathmandu, October 16:

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) today said some cases of clarifications by the Home Ministry regarding the status of individuals on the disappearance list rest on unconfirmed verifications. OHCHR-Nepal is currently “assessing” the Home Ministry’s clarification regarding 174 disappearance cases and is in the process of preparing a “response” to government on the issue.

“On the basis of cases examined so far, it appears that a number of these clarifications have been made only on the basis of unverified information provided by the security forces,” Kieran Dwyer, spokesperson for OHCHR-Nepal. The information received from the Nepali Army “without verification is not a credible clarification of a case,” Dwyer said. “This is not good enough. These cases are a matter of the gravest human rights abuses, and internal military investigations and reports are not independent or impartial as required by international standards,” he said.

Baman Prasad Neupane, spokesperson for the Home Ministry, said: “We confirmed the status of those on the disappearance list based on the verified reports of the security forces.”

Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula had told the House of Representatives on September 22 that 52 people on the disappearance list had been killed mainly in encounters between the security forces while 118 had been found released. One had absonded and one was still in detention. The government is, however, yet to verify the whereabouts of 602 individuals on the disappearance list.

Dwyer was concerned over the “unresolved cases” of disappearance including almost all the 49 cases of disappearance from Bhairabnath barracks. Such cases, according to him, are one of the most serious human rights challenges in Nepal On the disappearances from the Bhairabnath barracks, he said: “It remains the situation that nearly all of the reported cases remain unresolved or are yet to be properly clarified by an independent authority.