Nepal | June 03, 2020

Editorial: Protect victims

The Himalayan Times
Share Now:

Although relocation of the vulnerable with changed identity has been suggested, is this feasible in a small country like ours?

The trial of Mohammad Aftab Alam, Nepali Congress lawmaker and a former minister, for the alleged grisly murder of 19 men has taken many twists and turns, with the victims and witnesses now facing intimidation and threats to retract their statements in court. Alam is accused of dumping 19 people, who were injured in a blast while making a bomb to disrupt the Constituent Assembly elections in 2008, alive into the inferno of a brick kiln, a crime that subdues even the most gruesome plots seen in Indian cinema. At least two persons – the wife of a victim and another, a surviror of the blast – have said they gave statements in the Rauthat District Court under duress. There is worry as to what will become of them in the absence of a comprehensive law to protect victims and witnesses in the country. There is a Crime Victim Protection Act, but it only ensures security to the victim – not the witness – and that too for a temporary period of time. Given the criminal intent of Alam and his supporters, witnesses and the families of the victims could face threats throughout life for going against them.

Despite the denials, an audio tape of a recent conversation between Alam’s supporters and a family member of Oshi Akhtar, a victim of the blast in Rajpur, only shows the extent of intimidation and coercion used to change statements in court. The 37-minute tape has two of Alam’s men promising Rs 500,000 in cash and five kathhas of land – said to be worth about Rs 1.5 million – in exchange for changing the statement in court. Consequently, Amana Khatun, Akhtar’s wife, went to the Rautahat District Court and filed an application saying that her husband had gone abroad for employment before the blast and had not returned home since. The tape has Alam’s men giving death threats – like a hit from a motorbike – should Akhtar’s family refuse to cooperate. On Tuesday, Indian national Gaurishankar Chamar, the survivor of the bomb blast who had sneaked into Bihar to undergo treatment, told the media that he was kidnapped by Alam’s men and forced to retract his statement.

In the absence of a mechanism to provide security and protect witnesses and victims of a crime, it will be very difficult for them to come forward and make an appeal. And even if they do, they could be forced to retract their statement under intimidation and threat to life by criminals. This perhaps explains why rape victims often refrain from filing cases in court, although stigma could be a major reason. There is plenty we could learn from the developed world on how the issue could be tackled. Relocation with change of identity is widely practised in countries like the United States. While some advocates have suggested relocation of those who are vulnerable,
is this feasible in a small country like ours where everybody knows everyone around in a community? For now, until a permanent mechanism can be worked out, the government might need to have a temporary structure in place to provide protection to Chamar and Khatun from Alam’s men. Any untoward incident now or later will be a blight on the government’s image.

Electronic stickers

With a view to controlling fraudulent activities by middlemen hoodwinking the migrant workers, the government started providing electronic stickers to outbound migrant workers from Wednesday. The Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) prepared the e-stickers for all forms of work permits to be issued by labour offices across the country. DoFE officials said the move was aimed at protecting the migrant workers from the middlemen.

As per the provision, the foreign job aspirants will be able to use their e-mail or mobile phone numbers to receive the e-stickers, which will be automatically provided to the migrant workers. The workers will be able to clear the immigration after presenting the printed e-sticker or showing it on their devices to the concerned officials. Under the first phase, such facility will be made available only to the migrant workers. This move will discourage the local and foreign middlemen from issuing fake stickers, which often puts innocent job-seekers in difficulty. The issuance of online e-sticker is also expected to end illegal migration or human trafficking to other countries. This is a new provision, and the DoFE should issue a public notice so that all migrant workers can benefit from it.


A version of this article appears in print on November 15, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:


Brazil sets another record for daily coronavirus deaths

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil registered another record number of novel coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday evening, as the pandemic in Latin America's largest country shows no signs of slowing down. The nation registered 28,936 additional cases of the nove Read More...

High-level panel to decide on easing lockdown by tomorrow

KATHMANDU, JUNE 2 The High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 formed under Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence Ishwar Pokharel will decide in a day or two whether or not to ease the lockdown. Member Secretary of the committee Narayan Prasad Bi Read More...

FIFA adds voice to protests over Floyd's death

BERN: World soccer's governing body FIFA has joined sports leagues, teams and players around the globe to express solidarity amid outrage over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in the United States. The National Football League, National Hockey League an Read More...

Nepal's ruling party stresses dialogue with India to resolve territorial dispute 

Kathmandu, June 2  Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Narayan Kaji Shrestha urged India to sit for dialogue with Nepal to resolve Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani issues. He welcomed Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's remark about resolving border disputes with Nepal through dia Read More...

Nepali Congress registers statute amendment bill 

Kathmandu, June 2 The main opposition Nepali Congress today registered a private constitution amendment bill at the Parliament Secretariat seeking to change the constitution's provisions related to citizenship, language, provincial boundaries and formation of a boundary commission. Eight Nepal Read More...

Dhangadi  quarantine

Quarantines in Sudurpaschim bursting at seams 

Dhangadhi, June 2  With the increasing number of returnees from India, the quarantine facilities in Sudupaschim Province are almost packed. The number of migrant workers returning home from India is increasing every day. According to Kailali District Administration Office, around 5,000 Read More...

Nine businessmen held for gambling, remanded to custody 

Kathmandu, June 2 Nine businessmen, some of whom are ‘well-known faces’ in the business fraternity, were sent to five-day police custody after being arrested from a gambling den last night. Deputy Superintendent of Police Raj Kumar KC, also the spokesperson for Metropolitan Police Range,  Read More...

PCR tests of all quarantined persons fraught with problems 

Kathmandu, June 2  The Ministry of Health and Population said that implementing the Supreme Court’s order to conduct tests for coronavirus on all quarantined persons across the country using polymerase chain reaction method was a daunting task. Earlier, the Supreme Court had issued an order Read More...