Archive ref no: NCA-19447
The National Human Rights Commission organized a meeting with the press on 4 August, 2005 regarding important decisions taken by the Commission in dealing with the human rights situation. The press statement of the Commission is as follows:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been regularly conducting meetings with the press with a view to disseminate important decisions of the Commission to the general public. The stakeholders have been expecting a more effective role of the Commission in the protection of human rights in this present context. It is also everybody's expectation that there should be improvement in the human rights situation. This expectation will not be met unless the state and Communist Party of Nepal (CPN- Maoist) are not sensitive towards respecting human rights principles. The cooperation and coordination of human rights activists and the civil society with the Commission is essential for this purpose. In this connection, the Commission has made some important decisions with a view to pursue the effective protection of human rights as per the Commission's meeting of 2 August 2005.
1. The Commission has received numerous complaints alleging CPN (M) of perpetrating human rights abuses. Most of these complaints related to abductions are undecided yet. Other complaints are related to forced displacement, killings, extortion, threat to life, and causing various kinds of pain to the family of security personnel employed in Royal Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force. The complaints are also related to the forceful capture of the property and expulsion of innocent civilians who are not involved in the conflict from their villages. Furthermore, the regular strikes and blockades have also threatened the exercise of human rights. The impact on education sector is all the more important. Villagers have been particularly suffering more as a result of such incidents and situations. Most of the complaints received in the Commission remained undecided for long because the Commission had not been able to be in touch with the concerned parties. The Commission has not been able to intervene effectively in some important issues of human rights as well. As such, the Commission, which has statutory obligation to protect the rights of all Nepalese people, cannot remain silent in these issues. To establish contact with the parties in conflict shall be essential for undertaking genuine investigation of the incidents and to ensure justice to the victims as well as for bringing the perpetrators to justice. For this purpose, cooperation of all concerned parties, including the Maoists, with the Commission is essentially required. For this purpose, the Commission has decided to assign Commissioner Sudip Pathak as the contact person in the Commission.
1. The Commission has been paying serious attention to the issue of disappearance since its establishment. The Commission has immediately undertaken visits to places where such incidents have occurred as per details in the complaints received. However, the numbers of cases of enforced disappearance by the state are under the consideration of the Commission. The Commission has therefore decided give priority to this issue and has decided to undertake result-oriented action as follows:
1. The Commission has been preparing a detailed report regarding the situation of disappearance based on complaints received in the Commission, the activities of the Commission and challenges faced by the Commission which will be made public very soon.
2. The efforts to ascertain the fate of the disappeared shall continue through communication and interaction with national and international organizations, including the UN Office of the High Commissioner's Mission in Nepal as well as concerned agencies of His Majesty's Government by sharing complaints on disappearances that are received by NGOs and by sharing any other documentation as well.
3. Intensify surprise monitoring visits of places where the Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that people have been detained.
2. The education sector is one of the most affected sectors by the conflict. The education sector includes all levels of schools, teachers, students and other educational activities. We have heard that the education sector is generally maintained as a zone of peace even in the countries most affected by conflict. In contrast, this sector in Nepal has been the focus of all sides in their attacks. All parties should be aware of the long term impact on the country's human resources by the detrimental impact on the right to education. Although the Commission has been calling upon both the government and Maoists to address the problem, there have been no practical measures in this regard. The commitment from all concerned parties is essential. The Commission has therefore decided to undertake discussions with all concerned parties to address this issue of declaring educational institutions as zones of peace.
1. It is important to explore additional areas of cooperation with all human rights NGOs in present context. The Commission has decided to conduct wide-scale monitoring in cooperation with the human rights NGOs in districts which are sensitive from a human rights perspective.
1. The Commission recommended to the government to take against the perpetrators and provide compensation to the victims in connection to the following complaints received in the Commission:
a) In the case of the extra-judicial killing of an unarmed civilian and teacher named Govinda Prasad Simkhada (also known as Krishna Prasad Simkhada), a resident of Gumdi Village Development Committee, Ward no. 8 in Falangay of Dhading, the Commission recommended to the government to take action against the perpetrator(s) of the killing and to provide compensation of 1 Hundred Thousand Rupees to the family of the victim. Mr. Simkhada had been arrested by security personnel from his house in front of general public and had been killed under their control a day later on 11 May 2005.
b) The Commission had recommended to the government to take action against security personnel involved in the killing of Rama Adhikari, a resident of Tagan Dubba Village Development Committee, Ward No. 8 of Jhapa District. Ms. Adhikari, an unarmed civilian, had been detained and soon after killed in front of family members. The Commission also recommended to the government to provide a compensation of 1 Hundred Thousand Rupees to the family of the victim in the case.
c) The Commission recommended legal action against security personnel involved in the killing of Mr. Suresh Baral and injuring of Mr. Bankaji Gurung on 12 December 2003 at the National Bank Chowk. Mr. Baral was on his way back after feeding a patient at the hospital the two people were shot at negligently. The recommendation of the Commission was made as the security personnel were found to seriously negligent in their actions even as per the report of the investigation team of His Majesty's Government. As the Commission had found that the compensation to the family of the victim had already been provided, it made no decision on that particular issue.
OHCHR-Nepal Chief meets NHRC Chairman and Commissioners
NHRC Chairman and Commissioners held discussion with Ian Martin, Chief of the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal on 3 August.
In the meeting, they discussed issues of common interest. Martin expressed satisfaction over the role played by the Commission on the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. At the same meeting, Martin gave information to NHRC about the activity conducted by OHCHR in Nepal after the establishment of the OHCHR office and spoke about holding regular meetings and interactions between two offices.
NHRC Continues Monitoring
The Commission is carrying out monitoring of the protest rallies, detention centers and jails. On 5 August a team of the Commission monitored the gathering organized by civil society. The same day, another monitoring mission visited Shree Nath Battalion in Bhaktapur and sought information about the condition of detainees there as well as the physical infrastructure of the detention center. Another team of the Commission visited the Central Jail following complaints filed at the Commission about the possibility of re-arrest. On 1 August, a team of the Commission led by the Commissioner Gokul Pokhrel visited Jag Dal Battalion at Chhauni and sought information on the condition of detainees there. The same day, another monitoring team visited District Police Office at Hanuman Dhoka and met with student leader Gagan Thapa. On 27 July, a team visited Nakkhu Jail at Lalitpur and monitored the hunger strike launched by detainees there. Another monitoring team visited Bir Hospital following the case of a woman who was kept in the morgue. Further investigation regarding the case is going on. On 26 July, a team of the Commission monitored the meeting of ex-members of Parliament at New Baneshwar. Before this, a team had monitored the protest rally organized by the civil society and intellectuals on July 25 at Ratna Park .
Commission Recommends Government to Respect Right to Information
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a letter to His Majesty's Government today stating the Commission's serious attention to the notice issued by His Majesty's Government's Ministry of Information and Communication to FM broadcasting organizations on 14 June 2005.
In the Commission's press release dated 28 July, the Commission's letter notes that the Government's notice to FM broadcasters regarding the limitation on FM broadcasting services has deprived ordinary people from the right to various types of information. As such, the Commission recommends the Government to urgently take necessary measures to protect peoples' right to information and the freedom of opinion and expression, while taking into consideration the spirit of the Constitution and international human rights principles.
FM radio broadcasters, which provide the simplest means through which ordinary people receive information, are facing obstacles to carry out their responsibilities in an independent manner due to the ongoing conflict in the country. The notice from the Ministry has obstructed the FM broadcasters, entrusted with the responsibility to provide ordinary citizens with factual and objective information, in exercising their constitutional rights. The Commission's recommendation to the Government is based on information received by it on these grounds.
On the notice issued by the Ministry, the condition has been specified to the FM broadcaster institutions regarding restriction on news-related programs or productions, excepting for the broadcasting of purely entertainment programs or productions, as per the provisions in clause (j) of Rule 8 and clause (i) of Rule 9 of the National Broadcasting Rules, 1995. However, the notice does not specify the grounds for such restriction; nor does it mention the time period for the restriction.
The Commission appeals to all concerned to assist in keeping the media sector free from fear and pressure and to respect independent press and freedom of expression for the compliance of human rights.
Interaction with NGOs and Civil Society
The National Human Rights Commission organized an interaction program with the representatives of civil society and NGOs on August 1 at the Commission. At the program, Chairperson of the Commission, Rt. Hon. Nayan Bahadur Khatri said that the real practice of human rights was impossible without rule of law. The Commission had organized the program to facilitate and increase the level of cooperation and coordination between the Commission and the NGO community and civil society. The other objective of the program was to gather information on problems faced by the NGOs and civil society in carrying out their activities.
Referring the active role played by the NHRC in the protection and promotion of human rights in the country, he said that the Commission was committed towards its mandate. Chairman Khatri said that the human rights situation was not improving. "On one hand, the government authorities are not launching effective steps towards commitment made by the government itself and on the other hand, the Maoist are continuing the abduction, killings and use of explosive materials", he added. Referring to the work of the Commission, Commissioner Sudip Pathak clarified that NHRC is seriously taking the responsibility and challenges it faces. Representatives from more than 20 organizations took part in the interaction program. Most of the participants stressed on the leading role of the Commission on the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. They also emphasized that the Commission needed to rise to the challenge of protecting and promoting human rights in the country.
Monitoring Missions to Dhangadi, Bardiya, Banke, Rukum & Dang Districts
As the Commission is about to open its regional office in the Far Western Development Region in Dhangadi District in the near future, the team that visited the district recently organized an interaction program with civil society in the district on the role of the Commission in human rights protection work on 22 July. More than 60 participants took part in the interaction program including NGO representatives, legal professionals, journalists, Red Cross representatives, teachers, human rights activists and intellectuals from civil society. The participants were encouraged by the news of the soon to be established regional office in Dhangadi District and expressed their support to assist the Commission in its work.
The team of the Commission also held an interaction program with high ranking security and local administrative chiefs of the Far Western Region on the same day. More than 25 senior officials including the Royal Nepal Army Division Commander of the Far Western Region, Deputy Inspector General, Regional Chief of the National Investigation Department, Assistant Chief District Officer of Kailali District, District Chief of Police participated in the program. NHRC Commissioner Sudip Pathak spoke about the Commission and its activities, its strategies and the role of security forces in the protection of human rights. He also drew the attention of the officials on the importance of the application of due process of law and the need to ascertain the fate of the disappeared persons, among other issues. The Division Commander expressed their commitment to uphold human rights principles and to allow the Commission unimpeded access at any time to visit and inspect the barracks and detention centers, and informed that the security agencies were carrying out investigation on the disappearances. A similar meeting was also held with the Royal Nepal Army Division Commander of the Mid Western Region on 24 July.
An interaction program was organized by the Commission in Gualariya of Bardiya District on 23 July with more than 70 participants from various sections of the local civil society. Participants called for a more active role of the Commission and that it should undertake more pressure generating activities and not just limit its activities to investigate incidents after they had occurred. The participants said that the commission needed to focus on the issue of press freedom as well. The Commission also gathered information regarding the incident in which four persons including a veterinary doctor had been killed in the district. The same day, the NHRC team met with the security officials in Bardiya and discussed issues of mutual concern.
On 25 July, the team enquired about the condition of freed Kamaiyyas (bonded laborers), efforts from the local NGOs and the government in a meeting held with the freed laborers. Similarly, the Commission also met with refugees and enquired about their status.
An interaction program was also organized in Nepalgunj on 23 July with more than 65 participants from the civil society. Discussions were held on the role of the Commission in the protection and promotion of human rights. Participants emphasized on the need to strengthen the Commission and in spite of the challenges it faced and expressed their commitment to continue assisting the Commission in its work. On 25 July, meetings were held with the various organizations related to the education sector about the need to protect the right to education and the problems faced by students in receiving regular education.
On 25 July, the NHRC team visited Rukum and held meetings with the security officials in the district along with the civil society representatives. Representatives of the Industries and Commerce Union sought the Commission's assistance in seeking the release of six of their representatives who had been detained by the local administrator. Similarly, discussions were also held on the condition of the displaced people in the district. This was followed by an interaction with officials of security agencies in the district.
On 28-29 July, a team led by Commissioner Dr. Ram Dayal Rakesh held meetings and interactions with various sections of civil society in Dang District and enquired about the human rights situation there. The team visited the local jail and held meetings with the security personnel as well. A press conference was also organized in Nepalgunj in 30 July to discuss the overall issues related to the monitoring visits to the various districts.
Public Hearing Conducted
A team of the Commission organized a public hearing program in Banbehada in Kailali District on 21 July regarding the incident in which six family member of Armed Police Force personnel were killed in Banbehada on 14 June 2005. The team gathered additional information and inspected the spot of the incident. Over 50 people including local villagers, families of the victims, journalists and NGO representatives participated in the hearing.
Month-Long Monitoring of Rights of Children in Armed Conflict
The Commission has concluded a month-long monitoring mission from 1-25 July on the rights of the children in armed conflict. The Child Rights Unit of the Commission initiated the monitoring and covered Darchula and Bajhang Districts in the Far-Western Region, Jumla and Kalikot Districts in the Mid-Western Region, Baglung and Myagdi Districts in the Western Development Region, Sindhupalchok and Kavrepalnchok Districts in the Central Region and Panchathar, Taplejung and Jhapa Districts in the Eastern Region.
In the course of monitoring, the teams of the Commission gathered significant information in various issues related to the rights of children. The team had given special attention to issues related to extra-judicial killings and maiming, use and recruitment of child soldiers, attacks inside the schools and use of schools in the conflict, rape and other violent acts against children, abduction and illegal detention of children, and refusal of humanitarian assistance to children.
During the mission in Darchula and Bajhang, the monitoring team investigated the case of the killing of teacher Kumar Singh Dhami at Sipti in Darchula by security forces and the killing of two innocent students Mahesh Giri and Nava Raj Giri who were studying at grade 10 in Paringyal, Bajhang District. The team also visited local army barracks and police offices including jails in both the districts. Interaction programs were held with representatives of civil society and various administrative authorities in the districts. During the mission, the team also organized several interactions with local people including District Committee members of CPN (Maoist) in which the Commission emphasized about CPN (M)'s need to adhere to international humanitarian law .
Likewise, during the mission in Jumla and Kalikot, the team organized discussion programs with the administrative officers of the districts, NGO representatives, teachers and students. The team met also met with security officials and discussed on the issue of children in armed conflict. Similarly, the team also met with representatives of CPN (Maoist) and called upon the Maoists to respect children to be included in the zone of peace while respecting international humanitarian law. During the monitoring mission in Baglung and Myagdi Districts, the team organized an interaction at headquarters of Baglung on the rights of children and armed conflict. Likewise, the monitoring team in Sindupalchok and Kavrepalanchok also organized interaction programs and received a complaint regarding the disappearance of child by the security personnel at Dhuskun VDC in Sindhupalchok. After returning back from the district, the team followed the case and found the child in Sundarijal detention center. The Commission is doing further inquiry in the case.
APF Director Visits the Commission
The Director of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions Mr. Kieren Fitzpatrick visited the Commission in a three-day visit to Nepal from 19-21 July. Mr. Fitzpatrick was on a visit to assess the human rights situation in Nepal and the activities of the Nepalese Commission in the prevailing situation. During his visit, Mr. Fitzpatrick held extensive discussions with the Chairman, Commissioners, officials and staff of the Commission and enquired about the activities of the Commission. He also met with representatives of the various human rights NGOs and civil society. Mr. Fitzpatrick asserted that the NGO community needed to critically engage with the Commission and called for greater cooperation between the human rights NGOs and the Commission.