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Nepal: Human rights abuses escalate

20 April 2005

Nepal: Human rights abuses escalate under the state of emergency

Amnesty International today expressed serious concern at the growing catalogue of human rights abuses committed by the Nepali security forces and Maoist rebels since King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency on 1 February 2005. The organisation stressed that the government of Nepal must immediately restore full rights and freedoms to the Nepali people and called on both sides to the conflict to respect human rights and end impunity for abuses.

In a report entitled "Nepal:Human rights abuses escalate under the state of emergency", which was launched today ( http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maadqSVabgguAbb0hPub/ ), Amnesty International describes some of the grave human rights abuses that have been committed since 1 February.

Questioning the Nepal government's claims that the state of emergency is being "relaxed" the report points to the continued suspension of fundamental rights and ongoing media censorship, as well as the thousands of political arrests over the last two and a half months.

The report describes how legal safeguards against human rights abuses have virtually collapsed since the state of emergency. It also raises concerns that the independence of the judiciary and National Human Rights Commission is at risk because of pressure on these institutions to support the King's 1 February move.

Noting the serious threats faced by Nepal's human rights community described in the report, Purna Sen, Asia Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International, said "Human rights defenders must be allowed to carry out their work free from harassment or threat. All restrictions on investigating and reporting should be lifted to allow the Nepali people and the world to hear a full account of the human rights situation in Nepal".

Challenging claims made by Foreign Minister Pandey in Geneva last month that the King's move will bring "stability and security", the Amnesty International report highlights the recent escalation in violence and large number of casualties, including many civilians. The organisation also expresses serious concern about the emergence of mob violence - apparently encouraged by the state - which has spread terror among local communities.

Welcoming the agreement reached last week at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for nationwide human rights monitoring by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Purna Sen commented "This is a very important step towards improving the appalling human rights situation that the Nepali people face today. However, the international community cannot afford to be complacent. The world must remain alert to the grave human rights situation in Nepal and ensure that the commitments made over the last few weeks are implemented in full".

For the full text of the report, please go to: http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maadqSVabgguAbb0hPub/

ENDS

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