On Tuesday, Ian Martin, the chief of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), conveyed to the government OHCHR’s serious concern over reports of excessive use of force by the police in coping with the protests. In a statement he said the police lathi-charged, abused and pelted stones at protesters, and lobbed tear gas shells at them or in the vicinity of schools and hospitals. He also noted that some policemen resorted to ‘excessive and indiscriminate use of force’ while taking protesters into custody, arrested them on questionable grounds, failed to give injured protesters an access to medical care, and even threatened and caused injury to human rights monitors and journalists. OHCHR also disapproved of government ban on peaceful public gatherings in the capital and in the districts. But it also deplored the application of violence by some of the protesters. However, Martin said an excessive use of force could in no case be justified.
The international news media continue to report the protests and police handling of them. This has certainly not sent a positive message to the world about the government at a time when Nepal seems to be increasingly alienated in international circles, which explains the recent cancellation of Nepal’s scheduled representation at the highest level at the 60th UN General Assembly. Holding the government responsible for violating international human rights norms, Martin urged it to investigate the abuses and stop them in future.
It is the duty of the police to take appropriate action to see that protests do not go out of hand to disturb the public peace, but excessive force is unjustifiable under any circumstances. Moreover, the protesters aim at the restoration of democracy and at entering the prohibited areas declared in most of the city centre in anticipation of anti-government and pro-democracy movement. These protests are likely to persist until the Constitution is restored. Nepal will continue to be under the international microscope on human rights and democracy. An EU team, representing 25 countries, is arriving in Nepal in early October for a second time to assess the latest political developments, and its conclusions might not please the government, given the present state of affairs.