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NEPAL: Alleged rape of 12-year-old girl by a policeman in Mohatari district

December 6, 2006

URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL URGENT APPEAL GENERAL
 
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal

6 December 2006
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UA-390-2006: NEPAL: Alleged rape of 12-year-old girl by a policeman in Mohatari district

NEPAL: Rape of a minor; failure of proper investigation; impunity; un-rule of law  
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from its partner, Advocacy Forum, a local human rights organization in Nepal, regarding the alleged rape of 12-year-old girl by a senior Police Constable in the Mohatari district of Nepal on the 18 November 2006. The alleged perpetrator is currently being detained by the District Police Office (DPO) of Mohatari for further investigations, but there is a valid and serious concern about the level of objectivity and impartiality of police investigations into this particular case. We have been informed that the DPO has refused to release the findings of the medical examination of the victim to concerned persons, namely the victim's parents. Furthermore, it has been brought to our attention that a police inspector has allegedly undermined the legitimacy of the ongoing investigations by alleging that the 12 year-old victim was having a romantic affair with the accused; charges of which there is absolutely no evidence. We call for your urgent intervention into this case so that proper and thorough investigations may be conducted, and that the perpetrator is tried and prosecuted within a Court-of-law.

CASE DETAILS:

A 12-year-old girl Alisha (name changed to safeguard the victim's privacy), a local resident of the Gausala Village Development Committee-2 in the Mohatari district was reportedly raped by Mr. Manoj Chaudhary, a 27-year-old senior-ranking Police Constable stationed at the Gausala Security Base Camp in the Mohatari district, at her home at around 8:30pm on the 18 November 2006. At that time, the victim was alone at home while her parents and siblings were at a nearby hotel which her Parents co-own and manage. The hotel is also located nearby the Gausala Security Base Camp. According to the victim, the accused raped her after covering her mouth with her clothes so that her cries for help could not be heard. 

Soon after the incident, the victim's parents returned home to find their grief-stricken daughter. They also spotted the accused quietly leaving the house, but managed to identify him. Mr. Chaudhary managed to escape from the scene and reached the security base camp. The security personnel composed of the police, armed police forces and the army is stationed in the security base camp.

The victim's parents immediately went to the security base camp and reported the incident to Police Inspector Bimal Sharma, Inspector of Armed Police Force Kishor Shrestha and Army Lieutenant Min Bahadur Thapa. However, they hotly denied that Mr. Chaudhary or any of their personnel had been allowed to leave the camp.

After a while, the accused turned up in different clothes. The victim’s parents caught him, and accompanied by police personnel, took him to their home to find out what happened to their daughter. Confronted with her rapist, the victim bravely described the details of her ordeal. The police personnel then assaulted the accused and took him back to the security base camp.
The victim's parents then lodged a First Information Report against Mr. Chaudhary, with the District Police Office of Mohatari on the charges of rape; however the police authorities refused to register the complaint. The complaint was later registered by the DPO authorities due to mounting external and media pressure.

On the 19 November, the victim's parents took their young daughter to the Mohatari District Hospital for a medical examination, to determine whether or not she had been raped. The DPO authorities however, declared the examination findings nullenvoid and refused to release the findings to the victim’s Parents.
 
Furthermore, Police Inspector Kishor Shrestha alleged that the victim was having a romantic affair with the accused, and claimed that he possessed several love letters that were exchanged between them. However, he refused to provide the letters as evidence, and at this stage, there is no evidence whatsoever to prove his allegations. Moreover, even in the event that his allegations could be proved, sex with a minor is still a criminal offense under the law.

Mr. Chaudhary was taken to the Mohatari District Court on the charges of rape of a minor, and was remanded to DOP of Mohatari for further investigation. He is currently in detention at the Mohatari DOP headquarters. Mr. Chaudhary is a native of the Sitapur Village Development Committee-9 in the Saptari district.

According to Section 2(2) of Chapter 14 of Civil Code Nepal-2020 BS, a person can be imprisoned for up to 7-10 years if found guilty of rape of a minor (between the ages of 10-16, under the current serving definition in domestic Pakistani legislation). As the accused is a State Officer, the case has been registered and is currently being investigated under the State Case Act 2049, with the punishment following the regulations set down in the Civil Code.


SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them take urgent action on this particular case. Please urge them to ensure that the police conduct an impartial, speedy and thorough investigation into the complaint filed by the victim's parents so that proper legal action may be taken against those responsible for the crime. Please also urge them to conduct further investigative inquiries into the allegations of police inaction and obstruction of justice regarding the ongoing investigations. 

To support this appeal, please click:

Sample letter:

Dear _________,

NEPAL: Alleged rape of 12-year-old girl by a Policeman in Mohatari district

Name of victim: Alisha (name changed to safeguard the victim's identity); aged 12; Resident of Gausala Village Development Committee-2, Mohatari district, Nepal. 
Alleged perpetrator: Mr. Manoj Chaudhary; Senior-ranking Police Constable stationed at Gausala Security Base Camp, Gausala, Mohatari district; native of Sitapur Village Development Committee-9, Saptari district
Date of incident: At around 8:30pm on 18 November 2006
Place of incident: At the victim's home in Gausala Village Development Committee-2, Mohatari district

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the alleged rape of a 12-year-old girl Alisha (name changed to safeguard her privacy), a local resident of the Gausala Village Development Committee-2, Mohatari district by Mr. Manoj Chaudhary, a senior-ranking Police Constable stationed at the Gausala Security Base Camp on 18 November 2006.

According to the information I have received, the victim was reportedly raped by the accused while she was alone at home. The accused was later identified by the victim's parents as he attempted to flee the scene upon hearing their return.

When the girl's parents attempted to lodge a formal complaint against Mr. Chaudhary with the District Police Office of Mohatari on the charges of rape, the DPO allegedly refused to register the complaint; however the police authorities refused to register the complaint. The complaint was later registered by the DPO authorities due to mounting external and media pressure.

Proper procedure and thorough police investigation is essential to an effective prosecution system. Although the alleged perpetrator has been arrested and investigations have begun, I have my reservations as to the reliability and impartiality of the investigations being conducted by the DOP of Mohatari.

1. The DOP initially refused to register the case against the accused following the filing of an official complaint by the victim’s parents.  

2. The DPO refused to release the findings of the medical examination of the victim to the victim’s parents on the false pretext that it cannot be permitted while the case is still under investigation. On November 19, the victim's parents took their daughter to the local District Hospital for a medical examination to determine the extent of her physical trauma, but the results of the examination was seized by the DOP. 

3. Even though the investigation has not been completed, Mr. Kishor Shrestha, a Police Inspector of the DPO, Mr. Kishor Shrestha alleged that the victim was having a romantic affair with the accused, and claimed that he possessed several love letters that were exchanged between them. However, he refused to provide the letters as evidence, and at this stage, there is no evidence whatsoever to prove his allegations. Such tactics of manipulation by the police are sadly commonplace in Nepal, and are used as a ruse to delay or manipulate the course of investigations in their favour and to prevent prosecution. Moreover, even in the event that his allegations could be proved, sex with a minor is still a criminal offense under the law.

Rape of a minor is a serious criminal offense and therefore it is most urgent that the Government of Nepal take immediate interventionary steps in this matter. I therefore urge that you order an impartial and thorough investigation into the complaints filed by the victim's parents. I particularly request that you transfer the responsibility of investigation from the DPO of Mohatari to independent agencies in order to ensure impartiality and fairness. I also request the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal to conduct an inquiry into this case.

The perpetrator, as a state officer, should be charged under the State Case Act 2049, tried before the court and punished by law equivalent to Section 2(2) of Chapter 14 of Civil Code Nepal-2020 BS which states that a person can be imprisoned for up to 7-10 years if found guilty of rape of a minor (between the ages of 10-16, under the current serving definition in domestic Nepali legislation). I further request that you make immediate inquires into the DPO officers responsible for alleged inaction and misconduct of this case. I also urge the Government of Nepal to fulfill its obligations under the Convention for the Rights of the Child, to which it is a state party, and to take the necessary measures in ensuring that such gross violations of the fundamental rights of children do not happen in future. 

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:

1. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala
Prime Minister's office
Singha Durbar
Kathmandu, Nepal
Fax: + 977 142 27286

2. Mr. Krishna Sitaula
Home Minister
Singha Darbar
Katmandu
NEPAL
Fax: +977 1 4211286
Email: homehmg@wlink.com.np

3. Mr. Yagya Murti Banjade
Attorney General
Office of Attorney General
Ramshahpath, Kathmandu
NEPAL
Fax: +977 1 4262582
Email: rewtrp@hotmail.com 

4. Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
Pulchowck, Lalitpur
NEPAL
Fax: +977 1 55 47973
Email: complaints@nhrcnepal.org / nhrc@nhrcnepal.org

5. Mr. Om Bikram Rana
Inspector General of Police
Police Head Quarters, Naxal
Katmandu
NEPAL
Fax: +977 1 4415593
Email: info@nepalpolice.gov.np 

6. Police HR Cell 
Human Rights Cell,
Nepal Police
Email: hrcell@nepalpolice.gov.np
 
7. Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
Room 3-042
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9615
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN)

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ahrchk@ahrchk.org)


Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
UA-390-2006
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.