The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to share its concern regarding a case of torture inflicted on an 18 year old student by the Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPR) of the Hanumandhoka police station in Kathmandu district on January 20, 2010. The victim was kept in detention for 28 days before being released on a 40,000 Rupees bail. Despite orders of the District Court of Kathmandu, the police refused to provide the victim with appropriate medication during the whole length of his detention. This case reminds us that torture continues to be a serious problem in Nepal and should be immediately addressed.
According to the information the AHRC has received from Advocacy Forum, a local human rights NGO, Shivadhan Rai, an 18-year-old male student, was returning from Pashupati Multiple Campus, Chabahil where he studies, when he came across a friend of his, Shyam Babu Gautam, Secretary of ANNFSU (All Nepal National Free Students Union, politically tied to the Communist Party of Nepal, Unified Marxist-Leninist). The latter handed him some documents and told him to bring them to a certain Bharat Rai who was supposed to call him later. After agreeing by phone to meet up with Bharat Rai in Galfutar, Shivadhan arrived there at around 12.30pm. Nevertheless upon seeing him Bharat Rai reportedly pointed at him saying ‘This is the boy, catch him.’
Five policemen in plain clothes consequently arrested him, still in possession of the documents, took him into a dark blue van and brought him to his place of residence. There, they searched his room and that of his elder brother. The policemen allegedly took a computer, a printer, a shaving machine, papers and pads for the election, pamphlets, stamps of an organisation called Mangol National Organisation and some food. They punched him several times. They then accused him of being a robber and brought him to the Hanumandhoka police station, brutalising him by pulling violently his hair during the journey.
Shivadhan was reportedly taken to a room in the Metropolitan Police Crime Division and all the six policemen present in the room, except an Assistant Sub Inspector, started to inflict torture on him. They allegedly made him kneel and beat him on the sole of his feet with a metal ruler for ten minutes, accusing him of having fabricated fake academic certificates. Although Shivadhan asserted that the certificates they found in his apartment were genuine academic certificate belonging to his brother, nephew and niece, the policemen refused to believe him and inflicted torture on him several times.
Details of the torture methods include handcuffing with hands held back; having him stand on his hands against a wall and beating him on the sole of his feet, legs, knees and other parts of his body with a bamboo stick; kicking his back, neck and other body parts with boots; verbally abusing him; hanging him by one leg and beating him with sticks again; and slapping him. Taking him downstairs to keep his records one uniformed policeman beat him with a stick 10 times on the back. He was then locked into a cell.
The Advocacy Forum documented the effects the torture inflicted had on him: ‘There is a 2cm long wound in the right toe. There is a big wound on his right sole. The flesh of the left feet too is torn out. There were blue marks of torture on thighs and back but now cured. He is suffering from dizziness and feeling not hungry. He doesn’t take food in the evening and does not sleep well. In the morning, he feels more dizziness. There is burning sensation in his soles.’
The District Court of Kathmandu issued an order on February 3, 2010 to provide him with physical and mental checkup within 3 days. Nevertheless, the police only took him to Bir Hospital on February 10. The doctor recommended lab test and examination but the police constantly refused to support his medical treatment. Although, in the aftermath of the torture, his health started to deteriorate, the police constantly refused to provide him with medical support and he had to rely on medicine he brought from home.
On February 15, 2010 his case was filed at the District Court of Kathmandu and on February 16, the Court issued an order to release him on 40, 000 Rupees bail. Shivadhan Rai was eventually released after having spent 28 days in custody.
This case of police torture is not an isolated one and is very revealing of the malfunctioning of the police and legal system in Nepal which often allows this kind of incidents to take place and to go ignored.
In 2006, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other inhuman and degrading treatments, Manfred Nowak, after a fact-finding mission in Nepal concluded that ‘torture is conducted there on a systematic basis’, with government officials openly admitting that torture ‘can help sometimes’. Even if the situation has improved in the country since the signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and even if the government has promised that it would fight against torture, the use of torture by police forces is still extensive. The March 2009 report of the OHCHR-Nepal asserts that the office had documented 93 new cases of torture and ill-treatment in detention and concludes that ‘Reports of ill-treatment, sometimes amounting to torture are widespread, especially during interrogation.’
The recurrence of torture is due to severe flaws on several levels of the judicial and criminal system.
The first level implicated is the lack of a proper legislative framework acting as a strong deterrent against the use of torture. Despite being a state party to the UN Convention against torture, despite repeated demands from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the OHCHR-Nepal, despite the 2007 Interim Constitution which formally bans torture, there is still no law specifically criminalizing torture in Nepal. Under the Torture Compensation Act, perpetrators are subject only to ‘departmental sanctions’ i.e. demotions and suspensions, which are in no case commensurate with the gravity of the act committed. This is a point that should be addressed.
The general unaccountability of the police system also plays a part in this widespread use of torture. Torture victims often find it difficult to file a legal complaint against their tormentors and frequently have to deal with the indifference of the justice institutions. See our urgent appeal AHRC-UAC-086-2009 in which two men were publicly tortured by the police and in which the court while ordering medical treatment for the victims did not order any investigation into the causes of their injuries. Moreover if they manage to file a case, torture victims recurrently have to face threat and intimidation from the police. (See our previous urgent appeals: AHRC-UAU-056-2008 and AHRC-UAC-195-2008 ). Seeing their case investigated by an independent and impartial body, not submitted to pressures from the suspects seem to be another inaccessible threshold for the victims. (See AHRC-UAU-028-2008 and AHRC-UAU-010-2008: two cases in which police officers in charge of investigating into cases of torture belonged to the same police station as the accused.)
All of this result in the continuing impunity of the policemen accused of torture.
The problem of torture also needs to be addressed on the level of general police practices and mindset which usually focus more on extracting a confession from the accused rather than indulging into a broader investigation. The widespread idea that torture can be useful to solve a case must be seriously tackled and clear messages must be sent from the police command and the government that these practices are in no case acceptable.
The widespread use of torture in Nepal is the offspring of the combination of strong vacuum in the legislative system and of a decaying criminal and judicial system.
Please write letters to the concerned authorities requesting a thorough investigation into the allegations of torture inflicted to Shivadhan Rai. Please ask for the punishment of the perpetrators and adequate compensation for the victim. You can join us as well in expressing concerns regarding the flaws in the judicial and police systems which allow a widespread use of torture.
Please be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights-Nepal Representative, calling for intervention in this case.
To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER
NEPAL: Police deny medical treatment to a torture victim
Name of victim: Shivadhan Rai, 18, permanent resident of Devisthan VDC, Khotang district and currently living in Ward No. 8, Narayansthan, Mahankal, Kathmandu
Name of alleged perpetrators:
Six unidentified policemen from the Metropolitan Police Crime Division of the MPR Hanumandhoka, Kathmandu.
Date of incident: 20 January 2010.
Place of incident: Metropolitan Police Crime Division of the MPR Hanumandhoka, Kathmandu.
I wish to share my concern regarding a case of alleged torture inflicted to Shivadhan Rai, an 18 year old student, by policemen belonging to the Metropolitan Police Crime Division of the MPR Hanumandhoka, Kathmandu.
According to the information I have received, Shivadhan Rai was arrested on January 20, 2010 in Galfutar, Shivadhan while he was bringing documents given to him by a friend of his, Shyam Babu Gautam, Secretary of ANNFSU, to a certain Bharat Rai. Upon his arrival in Galfutar, Bharat Rai pointed at him and told unidentified policemen to arrest him. I know that the policemen then brought Shivadhan Rai to his place of residence and searched it. They took a computer, a printer, a shaving machine, papers and pads for the election, pamphlets, stamps of Mangol Nation Organization and some food. They accused him of being a robber and brought him to the Metropolitan Police Crime Division of the Hanumandhoka police station. After arrest he was taken to Bir Hospital for his medical checkup and was given a detention letter on the same day.
I know that, at that point, Shivasdhan had already been brutalized by the policemen who punched him several times and pulled violently his hair on the journey to the police station. Once in the police station, the policemen started to inflict more torture on him to make him confess that he had fabricated fake academic certificates, which he denies.
I am very concerned to hear that details of the torture methods employed included handcuffing his hands on his back, having him stand on his hands against a wall and beating it on his soles, legs, knees and several other parts of his body with a bamboo stick, kicking his back, neck and other body parts with boots, verbally abusing him, hanging him by one leg and beating him with sticks again, eventually making him get up and slapping him. Taking him downstairs to keep his records one uniformed policeman beat him with a stick 10 times on the back. He was then locked into a cell.
I am very worried about the effects the torture had on him, as documented by Advocacy Forum: ‘There is a 2cm long wound in the right toe. There is a big wound on his right sole. The flesh of the left feet too is torn out. There were blue marks of torture on thighs and back but now cured. He is suffering from dizziness and feeling not hungry. He doesn’t take food in the evening and does not sleep well. In the morning, he feels more dizziness. There is burning sensation in his soles.’
I am aware that although the District Court of Kathmandu issued an order on February 3, 2010 to provide him with physical and mental checkup within 3 days, the police only took him to Bir Hospital on February 10. A doctor recommended lab test and examination but the police constantly refused to support his medical treatment and he had to rely on medicine brought from home.
On February 15, 2010 his case was filed at the District Court of Kathmandu and on February 16, the Court issued an order to release him on Rs. 40, 000/- bail. Shivadhan Rai was eventually released after having spent 28 days in custody.
I am therefore urging you to make sure this case of torture will be promptly and properly investigated by an authority unrelated to the Hanumandhoka police station, in order to guarantee the independence of the inquiry. I am also calling for the suspension from duty and the punishment of the policemen found guilty of having inflicted torture and not having followed the Court order to grant him medical treatment, in a manner commensurate with the gravity of the torture inflicted. I request that the protection and physical integrity of Shivadhan Rai must be guaranteed and that he must be granted adequate compensation.
I am very concerned to hear that this case is not an isolated one and that torture is endemic and systematic in Nepal. The March 2009 report of the OHCHR-Nepal asserts that the office had documented 93 new cases of torture and ill-treatment in detention and that ‘Reports of ill-treatment, sometimes amounting to torture are widespread, especially during interrogation.’
Although the article 26 of the 2007 Interim Constitution states that torture or any cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment should be punishable by law, there is currently no law in the Nepalese system which criminalize torture in such a way that it can act as a real deterrent. I am therefore urging you to push for the drafting of such a law.
Of course, it can only act as a deterrent if the potential perpetrators know that they cannot escape sanctions in other words if the accountability of the police system is fully guaranteed. I am thus asking for general and concrete measures to make sure suspected cases of human rights violations by policemen should be systematically investigated in an impartial and independent manner. Those found guilty should not only face administrative sanctions but legal punishments as well.
The general mindset of the police system, which considers that torture is a decent and necessary way to carry on an investigation, should be challenged. I am asking you to send clear messages to the police officers around Nepal that this practice is not acceptable and that confessions obtained under torture will never be admissible as evidence in a trial.
Broad and concrete measures must be implemented right now to eradicate the culture of torture among the police system in Nepal. This stars with the proper investigation of contemporary cases of torture, such as Shivadhan Rai’s.
I’m looking forward to your immediate intervention in this matter,
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
4. Mr. Sarbendra Khanal
Superintendent of Police
Police HR Cell
Nepal Police, Kathmandu
Fax: +977 1 4415593
Tel: +977 1 4411618
5. Mr. Bhim Rawal,
Ministry of Home Affairs,
Fax: +977 1 42 11 232
Tel: +977 1 4211211 / 4211264
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)