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Nepal
14.01.13
Urgent Interventions

Political interference in police investigation_Risk of impunity in the case of journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa

NPL 140113

Denial of justice/ Political interferencein police investigation/ Risk of impunity

The InternationalSecretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your URGENTintervention in the following situation in Nepal.

Brief descriptionof the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by Advocacy Forum (AF), amember organisation of OMCT SOS-Torture Network, about the recent political interferencein a police investigation carried out into the abduction, torture and killing ofMr. Dekendra Raj Thapa, ajournalist affiliated to Radio Nepal, Nepal Red Cross Society, Dailekh, AmnestyInternational, and the President of Drinking Water User Committee, in August2004. OMCT is gravely concerned about the order of the Prime Minister of Nepalto halt investigations into the case.

According to theinformation received, on 26 June 2004, cadres of the ten Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) abducted Mr. Dekendra RajThapa and a friend in Naumule, Dailehk district. His wife searched for him andreported his abduction to the police and human rights organisations. However,she was unable to locate his whereabouts. One week after the abduction, thefriend, who had been arrested alongside with Mr. Dekendra Raj Thapa, wasreleased and informed Mr. Dekendra Raj Thapa’s wife that her husband would bereleased within that week. However, Mr. Dekendra Raj Thapa did not getreleased. Mr. Dekendra Raj Thapa’s wife later learnt that he had been forced towalk for a whole day and was kept in a school, where he was interrogated andtortured by Maoists cadres. Due to the torture, he reportedly fell unconsciousand was buried nearby the jungle while he was still breathing on 11 August2004. A few days later, on 16 August 2004, Mr. Dekendra Raj Thapa’s wife founda statement, signed by Ranjeet, district Secretary of the Maoist Party, statingthat Mr. Dekendra Raj Thapa had been “wiped out” after he had been chargedunder ten accusations, including spying on the Maoists.

On 26 June 2008,Mr. Dekendra Raj Thapa’s body was exhumed with the technical assistanceprovided by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nepalgunj. On 28August 2008, his wife filed a First Information Report (FIR) at the DistrictPolice Office, Dailekh District, on his abduction and murder, listing eightMaoists cadres as perpetrators, namely Laxiram Gharti, Harilal Pun Magar,Birbahadur KC, Nirak Bahadur Gharti Magar, Jaya Bahadur Shahi, Chabi Lal Shahi(Ranjeet), Bam Bahadur Khadka and another Maoist cadre. However, the police didnot start any investigation arguing either that the case would be carried outonce the transitional justice mechanisms would be in place or that thesuspected perpetrators were absconding although villagers claimed that theywere walking freely in the area.

On 5 January2013, the police eventually arrested five alleged perpetrators, only after Mr. DekendraRaj Thapa’s wife submitted a writ petition, with the legal assistance ofAdvocacy Forum, on 12 December 2012 before the Appellate Court, Surkhet, askingthe Court to order the police to carry out a prompt investigation. The policefirst arrested Mr. Laxiram Gharti, one of the alleged perpetrators, and basedon the information he provided, managed to arrest four other allegedperpetrators on the same day. The three other remain reportedly absconding.

Nevertheless,according to the same information received, on 8 January 2013, the PrimeMinister of Nepal, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, ordered the police and the DistrictAttorney Office, Dailekh, to immediately halt all investigations into the case.Investigation officers have since reportedly admitted that they have been underpressure from higher authorities to stop taking statements from the accused. OMCThas also been informed that one of the alleged perpetrators has been nominatedto be integrated in Nepal Army.

OMCT is concernedthat the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN) (Maoist) led government istrying to protect the then party cadres from investigation and prosecution intothe killing of Mr. Dekendra Raj Thapa.

OMCT recallsthat, due mostly to the continued political instability, there has been no moveahead on establishing accountability for human rights violations committedduring the decade-long (1996-2006) internal conflict between Government forcesand Maoist rebels. Despite the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreementof 2006, little progress has been made in connection to the establishment oftransitional justice mechanisms and not a single individual has beensuccessfully prosecuted by civilian courts for a conflict-related case, which hasalso contributed to the prevailing impunity with regard to violations committedsince the end of the conflict.

OMCT recalls thatthe Nepalese authorities have to fulfil their obligations under internationalhuman rights law to bringing to justice those responsible for committing humanrights violations and to providing justice for victims.

Therefore, OMCTurges the competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartialinvestigation into the aforementioned facts, in accordance withinternational human rights standards, the result of which must be made public,in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent andimpartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions asprovided by law.

Action requested

Please write tothe authorities in Nepal urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical andpsychological integrity of Mr. Dekendra Raj Thapa’s family, the lawyers working on the case and the witnesses to the case;

ii. Carry out a prompt,effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the aforementionedfacts, in accordance with international human rights standards, the result of which mustbe made public, in orderto bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartialtribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided bylaw;

iii. End any political interference with theinvestigation;

iv. Ensure that adequate,effective and prompt reparation, including adequate compensation, is granted toMr. Dekendra Raj Thapa’s family;

v. Ensure the respect of human rights and fundamentalfreedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws andinternational human rights standards.

Addresses

Ø Prime Minister, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Office of thePrime Minister and Council of Nepal, Singha Darbar, Kathmandu, Nepal, Fax: +977-1-4211286, Email: info@opmcm.gov.np

Ø Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kuber Singh Rana,Police Head Quarters, Naxal, Kathmandu, Nepal, PO. Box No.: 407, Fax: + 977 1 4415 593, Email: info@nepalpolice.gov.np

Ø Attorney General, Mr. Mukti Nath Pradhan, Office ofAttorney General Ramshahpath, Kathmandu, Nepal, Fax: + 977 1 4262582, Email: attorney@mos.com.np, info@attorneygeneral@gov.np , socialjus@gmail.com

Ø Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Mr.Kedar Nath Uppadhya, Pulchowck, Lalitpur, Nepal; Email: nhrc@nhrcnepal.org ; complaints@nhrcnepal.org Fax: + 977 1 5547973

Ø PermanentMission of Nepal, 81 rue de la Servette, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: + 4122 7332722, E-mail: mission.nepal@bluewin.ch

Please also writeto the embassies of Nepal in your respective country.

***

Geneva, 14 January2013 Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your r

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