NEPAL: Government must allow custodial visitations and monitoring of detention centers

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned as human rights organizations, including Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (THRDA) and Advocacy Forum (AF), as well as human rights defenders and lawyers have been barred from monitoring detention centers and from meeting those detained in custody.

The Nepal Police have stopped giving permission to lawyers and human rights organizations to meet detainees after issues of torture and illegal detentions have started to become known to the public. The commitment to human rights of the Nepal police has come under scrutiny in this denial of permission.

According to information received from the THRD Alliance, rights activists and lawyers in Terai districts (Sunsari, Siraha, Morang, Jhapa, Rautahat, Parsa, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, and Kailali) are not being allowed to meet detainees at District Police Offices and Area Police Offices. The police have been claiming to have received direct orders from the Police Headquarters not to permit any one to meet detainees. Due to this situation, incidents of illegal arrests, illegal detention, and torture are not being reported. Sub article 2 of Article 20 of Nepal’s Constitution, 2015, provides for lawyers to visit detainees immediately after their arrest. However, the Nepal police is clearly infringing this constitutional provision, which is a serious offence, and the AHRC has a strong objection towards such a move.

During a program organized by the Advocacy Forum on 25 June 2016 where they released a report on torture, Superintendent of Police and In Charge of the Human Rights Cell of Nepal Police Puja Singh publicly mentioned that none other than the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Office of the Attorney General are allowed to visit detention centers.

According to Public (Offence and Punishment) Act, 1970, any case under this Act shall be filed within a period of seven days from the date of the commission of an offence. The adjudicating authority may, if he/she is satisfied with reasonable ground that the case cannot be filed within a period of seven days from the commission of the offence, extend the limitation in order to file the case up to thirty-five days from the date of commission of the offence.

However, the Nepal Police have been illegally detaining civilians for 20 to 35 days without registering a case, and without presenting reasonable grounds.

There is no doubt that the Nepal police has consciously opted for this move, as many human rights violations, including illegal arrests, illegal detentions, and torture cases have been reported, and involvement of police officers has been established. This act of the Nepal police and their working style clearly presents the sorry state of the rights conditions in the State.

The government of Nepal, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Nepal police must respect and adhere to different international laws and conventions to which Nepal is a State party. As per Article 9 of the Nepal Convention Act, 1990, the government of Nepal must follow each and every international convention ratified to the letter.

Therefore, the AHRC strongly objects and urges the government of Nepal to create an easy environment and allow lawyers and human rights defenders to visit detention centers and allow custody visitation rights. The AHRC also urges the international community to intervene and raise this issue with the government of Nepal.

Please click here to read the statement inĀ Nepali.