NEPAL: New TADO the latest instrument to facilitate disappearances and other gross abuses

With the expiry of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Punishment and Control) Act — 2058 this 12 October 2004, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal has introduced a more severe and draconian version of the same law in its stead: the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Control and Punishment) Ordinance — 2061. Clause 9 of the latest TADO states:

“If a security official feels the need to prevent a person from carrying out any terrorist and disruptive activity, such a person can be kept under house arrest for a maximum period of one year, six months at his [Security Official’s] discretion and another six months after obtaining permission from the home ministry, in any place after fulfilling common humanitarian conditions”. 

This legislation is a clear indication that the government of Nepal has surrendered its authority to the military, and given it a green signal to continue with gross human rights violations including arbitrary detentions, torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial and summary executions. Most of the victims of the abuses committed by the state security forces working under the Joint Command of the Royal Nepal Army–as well as those committed by the Maoists–are ordinary people innocent of any crimes. The security forces have also targeted journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, victims and witnesses of their atrocities. 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is particularly concerned by the rapid growth in numbers of forcibly disappeared persons in Nepal. Although there are now around 2000 cases of disappearances reported, the actual number is unknown; army officers are said to have had involvement in a large number of the recorded cases. These continuing disappearances show the lack of sincerity of the government in its expressions of concern to promote and protect human rights of its citizens. 

The perpetrators of these disappearances are protected by the systemic impunity extending over the security forces in Nepal. All attempts to break this condition have failed. Given the existing circumstances, where the domestic court system has completely collapsed and no avenue exists through which to address any human rights violations in the country, the introduction of this newest TADO only confirms that the army is completely above the law. It also illustrates the complete lack of government sincerity towards the catastrophic human rights situation in the country. 

The AHRC calls upon His Majesty’s Government of Nepal to make genuine efforts to put an end to the practice of forced and involuntary disappearances by state security agencies. Disappearances are a crime against humanity stemming from a mistaken belief that the use of unrestrained force will resolve the country’s political and security problems. The AHRC denounces this delusion–prevalent at the highest levels of government–that brute force will bring all parties in the conflict to dialogue. Rather, by introducing strict laws and giving security forces unlimited powers, the government is stimulating the ongoing systematic and widespread human rights violations and crimes against humanity being committed by the security forces with absolute impunity. The government must instead adopt a realistic and sincere approach towards a solution; otherwise, the blind, unnecessary and blatant use of force coupled with the impunity of state security officials will continue to result in mass disappearances and other serious violations of human rights.  

Realising that His Majesty’s Government of Nepal lacks both the will and ability to deal with the problems in the country, the AHRC urges the international community to become fully engaged and make sincere efforts to put an end to the ongoing disappearances and impunity enjoyed by the security forces. In this, it should be noted that these practices and the offensive laws that permit them are all in clear violation of Nepal’s international obligations, especially under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and hence, demand an international reaction.  

The AHRC also calls upon all concerned international agencies and officials, including the International Criminal Court, UN Human Rights Committee, Working Group on Disappearances and Special Rapporteurs to pay special attention to the situation in Nepal, specifically the continuous disappearances and crimes against humanity being committed on a large scale. 

Finally, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations — UN Secretariat should UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES engage the Royal Nepal Army for any peacekeeping operations in light of its proven lack of professionalism and respect for human rights as well as humanitarian principles in its own country. 

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-40-2004
Countries : Nepal,
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions,