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Nepal - Menneskerettighedsforkæmpere anmoder om hjælp
NEPAL: Activists call on UN monitoring mission to act quickly
IRINnews.org, 11. august 2005
Menneskerettigheds-situationen er ikke forbedret efter Kong Gyanendras magtovertagelse 1. februar. Mere end 1100 mennesker har mistet livet har mistet livet siden da. To-trediedele er dræbt af de nepalesiske sikerhedsstyrker og en-trediedel er dræbt af maoisterne. Menneskerettigheds-organisationernes muligheder for at arbejde er samtidig blevet markant forringet.
As a result, activists have become increasingly concerned over the human rights situation and are asking when the Nepal-based Office of the United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will begin active field work as per its mandate. Nearly four months have passed since OHCHR and the Nepalese government signed an agreement to allow a UN human rights monitoring mission in the Himalayan kingdom.
"Extra-judicial killings by the state are increasing and more innocent civilians are being killed by the Maoist rebels. The mission has a challenging job but it needs to move fast before more human rights violations take place," human rights activist Krishna Gautam, said in the capital Kathmandu.
"Human rights activists are no longer able to work freely like before. All our hopes now rest on the mission," Gautam added, explaining that after parliament was dissolved in February, the state restricted the movement and work of rights activists, thus limiting their role in advocating against human rights abuses around the country.
However, now that OHCHR has also established its contacts with the Maoist rebels, activists are asking the UN team what they have achieved so far.
"The mission needs to move faster as it can really play a key role - especially in calling on the rebels not to destroy the infrastructure and public service systems badly affecting the civilian population," activist Subodh Pyakhurel said.
According to reports in the local media, Maoist rebels have begun to destroy water supply systems in some parts of the country in order to prevent government security forces from using them. Recently the rebels destroyed the water supply system in Sankuwasabha, nearly 400 km northwest of Kathmandu. This has already led to a water shortage for thousands of civilians.
Activists add that the Maoist militants had never previously directly targeted innocent civilians but had now been responsible for killing a large number of men, women and children.
The most tragic incident took place on 6 June in Chitwan, 100 km west of the capital, when 31 adults and seven children were killed in a landmine explosion.
The Insec report said that the rebels had been responsible for the death of 114 innocent people since 1 February, adding that the number of abductions nationwide had also risen to a total of 3,816 over the last six months, compared to 3,290 over a seven year period from 1996 to 2003. However, those figures pale to 2004, when Maoists abducted over 26,000 students and forced them to attend Maoist indoctrination courses.
"Civilian casualties are increasing at the hands of the Maoists, security forces and vigilante groups. What kind of pressure is the mission putting on these groups? Every day of delay means another death," warned one activist from a prominent rights organisation, who wanted to remain anonymous as he did not want to jeopardise his relationship with the mission team.
"The state and rebels should be made to sign a human rights accord. So, what efforts are the mission making towards this end? Everyone is asking the same question," he added.
In response to these desperate remarks, OHCHR told IRIN that the mission had hardly kept still and was actively preparing for the implementation of its mandates.
"There are a lot of things happening that people don't see. We are taking up a lot of issues directly with the state authorities and the Maoists regarding abductions and other issues," OHCHR chief, Ian Martin, explained. He added that the mission had already started actively investigating a number of key issues.
"Certainly we are not very present in the field yet and that won't happen unfortunately until we get more staff and are able to open an office out of Kathmandu," added Martin.
He went on to explain that his office already had been given the right of access to army detention centres, where they are able to visit unannounced. However, activists are sceptical whether such visits are possible in reality.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) suspended visits to detainees at army barracks throughout the country in May, after the Royal Nepali Army (RNA) allegedly failed to comply fully with the terms of an agreement with the ICRC.
"The visits to the military barracks have not resumed yet," Friedrun Medert, ICRC's delegation head in Nepal, confirmed to IRIN.
However, OHCHR explained that the agreement with the Nepalese government will be respected and it had already been working closely with the army on the cases of a number of disappearances. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recorded 1,100 unexplained disappearances of people.
"The Royal Nepal Army (RNA) at the moment has teams out in the regions, one of whose aims is to try to clarify outstanding cases of disappearances. We are now for the first time receiving lists of detainees in the army barracks," explained Martin.
Martin added that his team was already addressing cases of concern to the Maoist rebels as well.
"Again, it is early days to see how serious and effective the response would be," he added.
The mission aims to start full field operations in October when it will have a much larger team in place. In two months time, it will also submit its first Nepal report to the UN General Assembly in New York, which the king plans to attend.
"We are expecting a lot from the report, based on which the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, will also be addressing the assembly about Nepal," said Pyakhurel.
However, Pyakhurel, like many other activists, believes that the mission should not wait for further staff to arrive in the country and that it urgently needs to start work immediately.
"Even the presence of a handful of monitoring will make a huge impact in the villages at a time when human rights abuses are growing," he said.
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