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Nepal - Mennesker arresteres på mistanke ... og forsvinder!
NEPAL: Searching for the disappeared
IRINnews.org, 22. august 2005
Nepal sikkerhedsstyrker kritiseres for en lang række anholdelser, hvor de anholdte ikke stilles for en dommer, og mange af de anholdte forsvinder!
BARDIYA, 22 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Every evening, Kamala Tharu and her two young daughters Dilkumari and Premkumari sit near their house in the district of Bardiya, 700km west of the capital, Kathmandu, gazing at the dusty tracks that lead to their village in the vain hope of seeing husband and father, Laka Jawan Lahanu, returning.
Almost three years have passed since he was taken by security force personnel on suspicion of being a Maoist rebel.
"He won't come back, I know deep down, but having hope is all that keeps us alive. They must have killed him by now," said Lahanu's 63-year old mother, Kaliprasad, who has all but given up hope of ever seeing her 25-year old son.
Lahanu and six other men were all arrested near the Nepal-India border while on their way to Kalapahar in India to find jobs. Villagers said that the seven had no connection with Maoist rebels who having been waging an armed rebellion for the last nine years.
Their families believe the men must have died during interrogation while in army detention. "If they have been killed, then at least we should be able to give them a proper funeral. All we need is proper information so we can all rest in peace," said one of the relatives.
The case is just one of many where arrested civilians have never been seen again. Activists say the number of disappearances has reached crisis proportions.
"Over the last two years, the security forces have made Nepal one of the world's prime locations for enforced disappearances," said a 2005 report, 'Clear Culpability - Disappearances by Security Forces in Nepal,' by the New York-based watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) said that between 2003 and 2004, Nepal recorded the highest number of new cases of disappearances in the world.
During WGEID's visit to Nepal in December 2004 led by rapporteur Stephen Toope, it expressed serious concern over the lack of legal protections for people detained on suspicion of being Maoists or having information about the rebels.
"Reports of so-called preventative detention by plain clothes security forces and subsequent detention in army barracks, often with no legal order for detention and no access to a judge, lawyer or family, came from all parts of the country," remarked the WGEID. "Reportedly, no lists are kept by the authorities of those people detained in Army barracks," it added.
According to Nepal's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), it has received reports of over 1,000 disappearances at the hands of security forces since May 2000.
On 15 August, the government made public the status of only 90 people who had disappeared over the last few years. But it managed to reveal the names of only a handful of those who disappeared from Bardia, where activists have recorded the highest number of missing in the country.
Some families of those taken away by soldiers never to be seen again, have told IRIN that visits to army barracks have not yielded any information about the disappearances. Now they are pinning their hopes on local human rights organisations to pressure the government to reveal the status of all their detained relatives.
But unlike these families, many villagers in Bardiya are not willing to complain about their disappeared sons and husbands due to fear of being harassed by the security force, according to the Advocacy Forum, one of the NGOs that has been actively advocating against illegal detention and extra-judicial killings of civilians.
"The fear and trauma among the families is really high. They often just keep quiet for their own safety," said Sushil Lakhe from the forum.
The official response is to deny all knowledge of ever having held those subsequently reported as missing. "We have found in our study that over a dozen of the disappeared have been already killed but the state authorities are not willing to admit that," explained Lakhe.
Shekhar singh Basnet, chief of the human rights department of the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) in the key western border city of Nepalgunj - where rebels have been consistently active - has said he has fielded enquiries about more than 400 disappeared individuals. "But this figure is an exaggeration, these cases are being made up by the activists," he said.
HRW's study in late 2004 found this attitude typical. "No senior officer has ever been held accountable for disappearances in Nepal. In the face of such government inaction, "disappearances" can fairly be characterised as government policy."
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