Archive ref no: NCA-18913
Document - Nepal: Further information on Fear for safety/possible "disappearance"
PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 31/125/2004
3 June 2004
Further Information on UA 84/04 (ASA 31/055/2004, 27 February 2004) and follow up (ASA 31/084/2004, 25 March 2004) Fear for safety/possible "disappearance"
NEPAL Kaushalya Pokhrel (f), aged 21, student
Arjun Pokhrel (m), aged 24, student (her brother)
Released: Madhu Mandal (f), aged 22, student (wife of Arjun Pokhrel)
Madhu Mandal was released on 16 April from Bhairab Nath Gan army camp in Maharajganj, Kathmandu. She had reportedly been arrested on 16 December 2003 at her home in Manamiju Village Development Committee (VDC) in Kathmandu district.
Amnesty International has received no new information about Kaushalya Pokhrel and Arjun Pokhrel, who were reportedly arrested on 29 November and 26 November 2003 respectively, and remains very concerned for them. According to unofficial reports, Kaushalya Pokhrel is being held at Raj Dal Gana army barracks in Lalitpur District and Arjun Pokhrel is being held at Bhairab Nath Gan army camp in Kathmandu. However, the army continues to deny knowledge of their whereabouts.
Amnesty International has been concerned about a deterioration in the human rights situation in Nepal since the CPN (Maoist) launched a "people’s war" in February 1996. Reports of human rights abuses by both the security forces and the CPN (Maoist) escalated after the army was mobilized and a state of emergency imposed between November 2001 and August 2002. Many people were arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), which gave the security forces the power to arrest suspects without a warrant and hold them in police custody for up to 90 days. Scores of people are reported to have been held for weeks or even months in illegal army custody without access to their families, lawyers or medical treatment. The TADA was renewed by royal ordinance, after it expired on 9 April 2004. In both 2002 and 2003, Nepal recorded the highest number of "disappearances" of any country in the world. The CPN (Maoist) are also reported to have abducted scores of people.
Both sides agreed to a ceasefire on 29 January 2003, and held three rounds of peace talks, in April, May and August 2003. Among the CPN (Maoist)'s central demands were a round table conference, the formation of an interim government and elections to a constituent assembly to draft a new Constitution. The CPN (Maoist) announced they were withdrawing from the ceasefire agreement as of 27 August 2003. Since then, fighting has resumed throughout the country, and Amnesty International has received reports of both sides committing human rights abuses. In particular there has been a rise in the number of "disappearances" at the hands of the security forces and abductions by the CPN (Maoist).
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:
- welcoming the release of Madhu Mandal;
- expressing concern for the safety of Kaushalya Pokhrel and Arjun Pokhrel, who were reportedly arrested on 26 November and 29 November 2003;
- calling on the authorities to make public their whereabouts, and to grant them immediate access to relatives, lawyers and any medical treatment they may require;
- urging that they be treated humanely while in custody and not tortured or ill-treated;
- calling for them to be released immediately and unconditionally, unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence.
APPEALS TO: (Faxes may be switched off outside office hours, 5 ½ hours ahead of GMT)
General Pyar Jung Thapa
Chief of Army Staff (COAS)
Telegram: Commander-in-Chief, Army Headquarters, Kathmandu, Nepal
Fax: + 977 1 4 242 168
Salutation: Dear Commander-in-Chief
Lieutenant Colonel Raju Nepali
Head of Army Human Rights Cell, Army Headquarters
Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal
Fax: + 977 1 4 226 292 (If someone answers the telephone please ask them in English to switch on the fax machine, and resend the fax).
Salutation: Dear Colonel
His Majesty the King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
C/O The Chief of Protocol Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Chital News, Kathmandu
Fax: + 977 1 4 416 007
Salutation: Your Majesty
and to diplomatic representatives of Nepal accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 15 July 2004.