More troops sought for UN mission, claims RNA

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 28:

Refuting reports that the United Nations would stop taking Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) soldiers for peacekeeping missions on the grounds of deteriorating human rights situation in the country, RNA spokesperson brigadier general Dipak Kumar Gurung said at a press conference today that the world body was demanding more troops for its new mission in Sudan.

“The UN has called on the RNA to send two infantry companies and 75 staffers for deployment in Sudan, but considering the critical situation at home, we are doing homework for sending only a company strength,” said Gurung. He added, “RNA troops are recognised for their professionalism and best performance in international fronts. RNA is committed to protecting human rights so there is demand of our soldiers in UN missions.” The RNA had expressed commitment to protect human rights to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour when she met the Chief of the Army Staff, General Pyar Jung Thapa. Officers from the RNA Department of Military Operation and Human Rights Cell had briefed Arbour, according to an official at the RNA headquarters. She was told that the Army was promptly responding to Habeas Corpus appeals and was reopening the files of the “murder of Maina Sunwar, and the killing of Rina Rasaili and Subhadra Chaulagain in Kavre” on the hands of security forces. Arbour was also told that “the RNA was alleged to have extrajudicially executed 21 Maoists after their capture, the military court has recommended for the dismissal and a jail sentence for the commander involved and the decree will be implemented once the Ministry of Defence approves the verdict.”

When asked about Arbour’s conclusion of the existing impunity in the country, Gurung clarified, “The term impunity can’t be associated with the RNA because soldiers have always been punished if found guilty.” Till date, the RNA has investigated 40 cases, 44 people were sentenced to prison from six to seven years, 30 were discharged, 11 faced demotion, grade and promotion of four and nine soldiers were forfeited. Eight army men were given warning.

He added that the RNA was investigating the cases of Kailash Thakur, Dhan Sharma and Nasarulla Ansari who were said to have been “captured by local people and handed over to the security forces.” But, the National Human Rights Organisation later stated that the three were its members.