Govt fails to respond to UNHRC queries

Published On: April 3, 2017 03:04 AM NPT By: Deepak Kharel

KATHMANDU, April 2: Though a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture (CaT), Nepal has long ignored the UN Human Rights Council (HRC)'s repeated calls to brief the UN body on hundreds of conflict-era cases where the state and the Maoist rebels allegedly resorted to extreme torture tactics. 

The HRC has asked the Nepal government to provide answers on the use of torture in the conflict-era crimes including some high-profile ones involving teenager Maina Sunar and journalist Dekendra Thapa that highlight cruelty and torture methods that both sides employed.

Nepal signed the UN Convention against Torture (CaT) on May 14, 1991 though it has not yet criminalized torture. As a signatory to the convention, Nepal is required to report to the HRC and other concerned bodies on human rights related cases regularly. It also needs to report to the Universal Periodic Review every two years.

But the government has not yet furnished the details to the UN body. Officials privy to the development said that the government has yet to respond to enquiries made on 349 complaints related to conflict-era crimes.

During the 23rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session in 2015, Nepal had accepted 148 of 196 recommendations, while putting 30 recommendations under consideration. Most of those recommendations were related to war-era crimes.

The Social Justice and Human Rights Committee of the parliament has formed a separate probe team to find out what caused the delay and to find details of the cases.

"We formed a probe team to look into the cases. But we haven't yet notable progress so far. If this impasse persists, we will summon concerned ministers and secretaries. Such delays will tarnish image of our nation in the international arena," said Sushil Kumar Shrestha, chair of the parliamentary committee.

As a signatory to the Convention against Torture, Nepal is required to submit report to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) every two years and answer other concerns of the UN body.

Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is the body set up by the Human Rights Council (HRC) that aims to improve the human rights situation of the member states. 

Human rights groups and civil society members have said that the government is doing precious little to address international concerns on war-era crimes. They said that such delays and negligence are likely to push Nepal into the list of countries with poor human rights record.

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