Although the Compensation Act 1997 clearly prohibits torture in custodies, the security forces have been accused of violating the law and instead resorting to all sorts of harsh physical and mental torture. Observing the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in the capital the other day, the human right activists and legal experts blamed both the security forces and the Maoists for promoting state of impunity and endorsing several methods of torture during the insurgency. It is widely known that for over a decade, while the rebels adopted brutal methods to punish and torture those who they perceived to be enemies, there are plenty of cases of torture of civilians in custody of the police or army. On the other hand, though the courts have ordered the successive governments to compensate victims of torture, the verdicts are yet to be implemented by the concerned government agencies.

Clearly, this is a direct fallout of weak legal provisions. Also, seldom are the culprits punished for engaging in inhuman treatment of prisoners and suspects. The problem merits the attention of both the legislative and the judicial branches. Time is apt to amend the existing acts or enforce stricter measures in line with international conventions against torture to which Nepal is a signatory. This year the UN has come up with the slogan “Unite and work against torture” to support the victims. The Nepal government, too, in collaboration with the non-governmental sector, should implement the UN resolution and ensure that the security personnel do not resort to abuse of authority and the Maoists desist from torture tactics.