The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a young member of an armed group was killed by Nepali police officers in an alleged encounter last December in Banka district’s Mataiya Village Development Committee. The lack of evidence relating to the encounter has led the AHRC to suspect that this is another case of extrajudicial execution, in a region in which they are on the rise.
According to information from the Advocacy Forum, a Nepal-based Human Rights NGO, Omkar Gosain and his wife Raj Kumari were spending time in Bacharach in India on 26 December 2009 when Omkar received a phone call from someone requesting a sum of money. The caller, a Baleshwar Kurmi of the Fattepur Village Development Committee (VDC) in Gendawa, Banke made repeated calls asking Omkar to go with money to Gendawa. The couple decided to comply and Omkar was last seen by his wife at Rupadiha, India, which they travelled to by train. Raj went on to Nepalgunj; Omkar told her that he would continue to Gendawa.
It has been reported by local and national media that Omkar was caught and killed by the police early on the morning of 28 December at the Matehiya VDC forest area, Ward no. 1. The media coverage does not provide any details other than the killing was an ‘encounter’, and Advocacy Forum staff have since met with Omkar’s mother and wife, as well as local villagers in Fattepur and Matehiya VDC to learn more.
Omkar’s mother Krishnawati believes that her son’s killing was related to his possible involvement in the Jwala Singh Group, an armed resistance group which led him to be stigmatised in his village. She says that he had been groundlessly accused by local villagers of involvement in extortion, abductions and killings, and she believes that villagers informed the police of her son’s whereabouts shortly before his death.
Omkar’s wife Raj knows nothing about the circumstances of her husband’s death. She was asked to identify his body at the Bheri Zonal Hospital in Nepalgunj soon after 3am on 28 December, where she was able to positively identify it at 6am.
Local people living about one kilometre from the site of the killing remember hearing gunshots, but think that the shooting sounded unilateral, rather than haphazard as in a crossfire situation. After the shooting the police closed off access to the scene.
In July 2009 the Home Minister of Nepal, Bhim Rawal, noted that there are currently 109 active armed groups in Nepal, of which most involve criminal elements. This holds especially true for the Terai regions of Nepal, where criminal activity has been seen to rise steadily over the last decade.
However there has also been a steep increase in National Police (NP) and Armed Police Force (APF) brutality in the regions; Advocacy Forum documented 12 cases of extrajudicial killings by the NP and the APF that took place there in 2009. Though these killing have all been presented as ‘encounters’ by the security forces, in none of the cases were any member of the NP or the APF injured or killed, as one would expect. Against this background the responsibilty lies with the security forces to prove the legitimacy of an encounter killing, and any suspicious incidents such as the killing of Omkar Gosain must be thoroughly investigated. This is not currently taking place.
In March 2009, a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal acknowledged that: increased demands to tackle armed groups have coincided with an increase in illegal killings by police forces. In 2008, 23 cases were reported, for most of which the Nepal Police was responsible, as compared to 12 cases in 2007. In most cases the security forces claimed self-defense and the deaths were generally recorded as ‘accidental’. In none of the cases investigated by OHCHR Nepal has there been any attempt to conduct credible, effective or impartial investigations.
The OHCHR has documented various cases like Omkar Gosain’s in which persons were killed by police forces in alleged encounters, but for which there was no evidence to support such allegations.
The same report voices the concern of the OHCHR regarding the way in which inquiries into extrajudicial killings are conducted: While in some cases the Government has appointed commissions to investigate major incidents, these commissions often included members of the institutions whose personnel are implicated, raising concerns about their independence and impartiality, and about the possible perpetuation of impunity. The terms of reference of the commissions are generally not made public and the families of victims or legal representatives are not kept informed of proceedings. The reports and findings are seldom made public and there is little indication of any action taken by the Government.
Furthermore the United Nations Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions state that ‘There shall be thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions’ and provide very specific guidelines regarding the steps necessary to adequately investigate a case of suspected extrajudicial execution:
‘It shall include an adequate autopsy, collection and analysis of all physical and documentary evidence and statements from witnesses [
] The investigative authority shall have the power to obtain all the information necessary to the inquiry. Those persons conducting the investigation shall have at their disposal all the necessary budgetary and technical resources for effective investigation. They shall also have the authority to oblige officials allegedly involved in any such executions to appear and testify. The same shall apply to any witness [
] Complainants, witnesses, those conducting the investigation and their families shall be protected from violence, threats of violence or any other form of intimidation [
]Those potentially implicated in extra-legal, arbitrary or summary executions shall be removed from any position of control or power, whether direct or indirect, over complainants, witnesses and their families, as well as over those conducting investigations […] Families of the deceased and their legal representatives shall be informed of, and have access to any hearing as well as to all information relevant to the investigation, and shall be entitled to present other evidence [
Moreover a report compiling the results of the investigation has to be made public.
All of the above are needed to ensure that cases of possible extrajudicial killings are investigated and that suspects are relieved from duty. They must all be observed in the case of Omkar Gosain. This is particularly important when considering the context of social unrest in the Terai region. The government must understand that allowing extrajudicial executions to continue unchallenged will result in the further undermining of the peace process.
For more information about recent cases of torture and extrajudicial killings in the Terai see (PDF): http://www.advocacyforum.org/TeraiReport_English_English.pdf.
It is imperative that the killing of Omkar Gosain is thoroughly and impartially investigated by the police. Please call for an investigation and for the charging with murder, in a civil court, of those proven to be guilty.
The AHRC has written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings calling for his intervention in this matter.
To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER
NEPAL: A possible case of extrajudicial execution must be thoroughly investigated
Name of victim: Omkar Gosain, 25; formerly residing of the Mataiya Village Development Committee (VDC), Banke District
Name of alleged perpetrators: unknown police officers
Date of incident: December 28, 2009
Place of incident: Mataiya Village Development Committee (VDC), Banke District, Nepal
I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding a suspected case of extrajudicial execution which occurred on December 28 in the Mataiya Village Development Committee area, Banke District.
According to the information I have received, the victim, Omkar Gosain, 25, was killed by police officers during an alleged encounter in the Matehiya VDC forest area, ward no. 1. However no evidence has been given of an encounter situation.
Mr. Gosain traveled there from a trip to India on December 26 after receiving a phone call from a Mr. Baleshwar Kurmi asking for his return with a sum of money. Ms. Raj Kumari, the victim’s wife, identified her husband’s body at the Bheri Zonal Hospital, Nepalgunj at 6am on December 28.
Since extrajudicial killings are not uncommon in this area, I am told that a fact finding mission was sent by a local human rights organisation to investigate the circumstances of the killing. It turns out that those living less than one kilometre away from the place of the alleged encounter heard what they considered to be unilateral gunshots. Police then closed the area to observers.
I understand that Mr. Gosain was involved with the Jawla Singh Group, an armed group, which had caused his stigmatization and his isolation from the rest of the village, and may be behind his killing.
The OHCHR office in Nepal has reported several similar cases in which members of insurgent armed groups have been killed by police officers in what the latter claimed later were encounters. Nevertheless in many of those cases no evidence of this could be found, and no impartial investigation was conducted to determine the circumstances of the killing or prosecute those responsible. Strong actions need to be taken to guarantee that this case does not simply get swept under the rug, going unnoticed and unpunished.
I therefore call for an impartial and prompt investigation according to the guidelines of the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, ensuring that:
1. An adequate autopsy is conducted and physical and documentary evidence and statements from all witnesses are collected as soon as possible.
2. The investigative authority exercises the power to obtain all information necessary to the inquiry. Those persons conducting the investigation shall have at their disposal all the necessary budgetary and technical resources for effective investigation. They shall also have the authority to oblige the testimony of any officials allegedly involved; the same shall apply to any witness
3. Mr. Gosain’s family, the witnesses, those conducting the investigation and their families are protected from violence, threats of violence or any other form of intimidation
4. The police officers potentially implicated in the summary execution are removed from any position of control or power over complainants, witnesses and their families, whether direct or indirect, as well as over those conducting investigations
5. Mr. Gosain’s family and their legal representatives are informed of and have access to any hearing, as well all information relevant to the investigation, and are entitled to present other evidence.
6. A report compiling the results of the investigation is made public.
Should the investigation conclude that Mr. Gosain was extra judicially executed, those responsible must be relieved of their official duties to prevent recurrence, they must be prosecuted by an impartial and independent body. Adequate compensation must be granted to the victims family.
With the right to life entrenched in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, I am asking the government to adopt legislation that will effectively prevent extrajudicial killings; this should follow international standards set by the UN principles.
I also wish to point out that this case is emblematic of the broader issue of accountability and its marked absence from the police system in Nepal. An influential position within the police or the army must no longer provide blanket protection against crime or human rights violations. As I’m sure you’re aware, this practice undermines the credibility of the criminal justice system in Nepal and threatens the durability of the peace process.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Ramesh Chand Thakuri
Inspector General of Police
Police Head Quarters, Naxal
Fax: +977 1 4415593
Tel: +977 1 4412432 (Secretary to IGP)
E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Dr. Bharat Bahadur Karki
Office of Attorney General
Fax: +977 1 4262582
Tel: +977 1 4262506
3. Mr. Kedar Nath Upadhaya
National Human Rights Commission
Fax: +977 1 55 47973
Tel: +977 1 5010015
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Mr. Sarbendra Khanal
Superintendent of Police
Police HR Cell
Nepal Police, Kathmandu
Fax: +977 1 4415593
Tel: +977 1 4411618
5. Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal
Prime Minister’s office
Fax: + 977 1 42 27286
6. Mr. Rakam Chemjong
Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction
Tel: +977 1 4211189
Fax: +977 1 4211186 and 4211173
7. Bhim Bahadur Rawal
Ministry of Home Affairs
Tel : 00977-1-4211204 / 4211252
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