Friday, November 11, 2011

Nepal: Concern over appointment of officials implicated in rights abuses

Demonstation on the streets of Kathmandu in favour of drafting a new constitution for Nepal

UN - The United Nations human rights office in Nepal today voiced concern over recent decisions by the Government to appoint, promote or pardon public officials implicated in serious crimes and human rights abuses, saying such actions undermined efforts to end impunity.

The trend could also taint recent positive progress on the peace process, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) said in a press release.

“As the Government of Nepal takes important and positive steps to advance the peace process and establish transitional justice mechanisms to address past crimes, such decisions will establish a trend to entrench impunity and send the wrong message at the wrong time,” said Jyoti Sanghera, the head of OHCHR-Nepal. “The Government should respect Nepal’s judiciary and the rule of law.”

On Tuesday, the Nepal’s Council of Ministers decided to appoint Constituent Assembly (CA) member Suryaman Dong as Minister for Energy, despite an outstanding warrant for his arrest in relation to the abduction and murder of Arjun Lama in 2005.

That decision came after a similar Government move in May to appoint another CA member, Agni Sapkota, implicated in the same case, as a minister.

In the meeting the Council of Ministers also agreed to request the President to pardon CA member Bal Krishna Dhungel, who was convicted in 2004 on murder charges, a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court in 2010, which reaffirmed that he should serve his term in prison.

A week earlier the Government had also decided to promote Durj Kumar Rai to the position of Additional Inspector General of the Armed Police Force. Mr. Rai’s promotion was approved despite his implication in the killing of pro-democracy demonstrators in 2006, for which a probe commission recommended his prosecution.

In July, the army promoted Brigadier-General Victor Rana to the rank of Major-General, despite his alleged command responsibility for multiple cases of arbitrary detention, torture and disappearances in the Maharajgunj barracks in 2003 and 2004.

Neither Mr. Rai nor Mr. Rana has faced criminal investigation or prosecution in relation to the alleged crimes.