Political leaders’, rights activists’ detention worries rights bodies

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, February 11:

The international community and several human rights watchdogs have expressed concern over house arrests of political leaders and detention of human rights defenders.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) expressed concern over the illegal detention of Krishna Pahadi, founding chairman of the HURPES, and Sukram Maharjan, member of the same organisation, whose whereabouts are not known.

The arrests are taking place all the time, both in Kathmandu and outside, and the actual number of “arrested” is unknown, said the AHRC in its statement. The international community’s call, including that of the US, Britain, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to restore democracy, has gone unheeded, it said. According to the AHRC, the international community’s lack of “comprehensive strategy to deal with the present situation” will lead to increased impunity.

“We consider that steps should be taken to reinstall democratic institutions and to protect Nepali citizens and their representatives, as well as human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and political leaders. In addition, measures should be taken to put an end to the climate of impunity prevailing in the country and for serious human rights violations, crimes and abuses committed in the past.” The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) called for the release of Pahadi and human rights defenders arrested during a protest rally organised by the HURPES in Putalisadak yesterday and expressed concern over the health and safety of Sindhunath Pyakurel, the former president of Nepal Bar Association.

“The government must grant detainees immediate access to lawyers, the National Human Rights Commission, their families and medical assistance. The government should issue details of those who have been detained since February 1, why they are being detained and where they are held,” it said. It urged the authorities to allow rights defenders to carry out their “legitimate duties,” said the ICJ.