Youths participate in a whistle protest against rape organized by Maiti Nepal at Maitighar, Kathmandu on Wednesday. Bijay Gajmer/Republica
KATHMANDU, April 5: A surprise inspection carried out by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has found that police offices in Kathmandu Valley are in a shabby state when it comes to handling cases of sexual violence.
Acting on complaints received at the commission about the incompetence of the police offices in handling cases of sexual assault and violence, a team led by NHRC Member Mohna Ansari carried out a surprise inspection of Kathmandu Valley Metropolitan Police Range at Teku, the Women and Children's Service at Kalimati and Metropolitan Police Circle, Durbarmarg on Monday.
“We found that the police offices were in poor shape for handling cases of sexual assault and violence. It is really frustrating to see negligence on the part of the police although they have a crucial role in investigating and taking legal action in cases of sexual violence,” Ansari said. She said the poor management of the police offices only added to the plight of the victims.
She said the counseling desks set up at police offices for counseling the victims of sexual violence were found to be poorly manned and there was no female personnel at the inquiry desks. “It is really difficult for female victims to open up to male police officers. But the police lack enough female personnel,” she added.
According to her, the police authorities have been found settling serious cases of sexual violence through negotiations when they should be investigating and taking necessary legal action. “Likewise, we also found that there is a lack of coordination between the police office which carries out the preliminary investigations and registers cases, the office of the public prosecutor which oversee such cases, and the courts,” she added.
“We found that there was no privacy at the counseling desk at one police officer. The desk is crowded with other police personnel and there was no sensitivity show toward the cases of sexual violence,” Ansari said.
She said it was unfortunate to see such poor management despite the huge financial support received from organizations like UNDP, the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank.
“Top police officials are personally competent but they lack research input on how their offices can be made victim friendly,”
Issuing a press statement Wednesday, NHRC urged the police authorities to bring their offices up to the mark and make them victim-friendly.