NEPAL: An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and to the relevant authorities

06 September 2017

Mr. Krishna Bahadur Mahara
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal

Phone: 977-1- 4200182/183/184/185
Toll Free No: 1660-01-00186
Fax: 977-1- 4200061/056/160

Dear Mr. Mahara,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) would like to inform you that we are aware that your office has received a joint communication sent by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, dated 7 June 2017.

This joint communication from the Special Procedures was concerning several incidents of alleged extrajudicial executions and excessive use of force by Nepalese security officers between 2013 and 2017, including during demonstrations held by ethnic minority groups, which resulted in over 40 persons killed and several others injured, in Nepal’s Terai region.

The AHRC is aware that the Special Rapporteurs sought answers to the following questions:

1. Are the facts alleged in the summary of the cases accurate? Please provide any additional information and any comment you may have on the allegations described in this letter.

2. Please provide the full details of any investigations which have been undertaken concerning the cases described above of excessive use of force by Nepalese security forces, and in particular with regard to the aforementioned killing. Have penal, disciplinary or administrative sanctions been imposed on the alleged perpetrators?

3. Please provide details about progress of the investigation conducted by the High Level Inquiry commission on the incidents occurred in the Terai between 2013 and 2016 as well as the Committee appointed to look into the Saptari incident. Please inform about the support provided by the Government to those two bodies through resources and capacity. Please inform whether the finding will be made public.

4. Please, indicate whether compensation has been provided to the victims and their families.

5. Please indicate the rules governing the use of force by law enforcement officials in Nepal, including Armed Police Force regulation of 7 July 2015, and how do these regulations comply with international standards on the use of force.

6. Please indicate what measures have been taken to ensure that the legitimate rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are respected and that the physical and psychological integrity of those exercising these rights is guaranteed in the Terai region.

7. Please inform about the legal and policy measures adopted by the Government of Nepal to ensure that law enforcement personnel operating in Terai region exercise their duties in full respect of the rights of members of ethnic minorities and in compliance with the principles of equality and non-discrimination; and how the implementation of these measures are effectively monitored and controlled and their breaches sanctioned.

The AHRC has been informed that your office was supposed to furnish answers within two months, which ended on 7 August 2017. The AHRC would like to use this opportunity to inquire whether you and relevant authorities plan to reply to the joint communication.

As per our information, you have so far not replied to those questions. The AHRC fears that the Government of Nepal does not intend to do so; in line with the neglect, it has shown to many verdicts of the High Courts and Appellate Courts, to investigate the Terai killings and other human rights violations.

The AHRC is highly concerned about human rights violations, including excessive use of force, by security personnel in Nepal’s Terai. Many international and local human rights organizations including the Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (THRDA) have been voicing their concerns in national and international platforms. The AHRC and the THRDA jointly published a Special Report “Protest and Repression – State Responsibility for 37 Killings During Protests in Terai” in May 2016. However, the government of Nepal has been not only maintaining its silence, but also neglecting to investigate extrajudicial killings, which occurred there between 2013 to 2016.

Furthermore, the government of Nepal has also not attended to suggestions and directions of the National Human Rights Commission regarding excessive use of force by security personnel in Nepal’s Terai and prompt investigations.

The AHRC, therefore urges your office to immediately address the joint communication from the Special Procedures, and furnish answers to their queries. In addition, the AHRC requests your office to expedite the investigations by the High-Level Inquiry Commission, which was formed in October 2016 with the mandate to investigate the incidents. After its six-month mandate ended in April 2017, it was renewed for three months until October 2017. Once the High-Level Inquiry Commission submits its report, the government must publish it in full forthwith, attend to its suggestions and recommendations, and bring it into full implementation.

Yours Sincerely,

Bijo Francis
Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong