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Nepal: UN Calls On Army To Use Restraint

Nepal: After Reports Of Death And Injury, UN Calls On Army To Use Restraint

New York, Apr 10 2006

United Nations human rights officials have expressed grave concern at reports of shooting into a crowd of demonstrators by the Nepalese army resulting in death and injury, calling the incident a clear violation of international standards.

“It is essential that Government requires members of the security forces to observe their obligation to minimize use of force and firearms in the current context of demonstrations,” the Nepal representative of the Office of the UH High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ian Martin, said in a statement over the weekend.

“The use of force against peaceful demonstrators is not acceptable. In the case of demonstrations involving aggressive throwing of rocks, bricks and other projectiles, security forces must exercise restraint and as far as possible use less dangerous means than firearms, so that they respect and preserve human life,” he added.

OHCHR-Nepal referred to Saturday’s reports of shootings in the central town of Pokhara in which one person was reportedly killed and at least one other injured.

“From OHCHR’s investigations, it is clear that the soldier resorted to excessive force in a situation where there was no direct threat to life,” it said.

Recent days have seen non-violent demonstrations challenging Government bans and curfews, and some aggressive demonstrations including throwing of rocks, bricks and other projectiles, and attacks on public property.

Last week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan voiced concern over the brewing confrontation just before the so-called “Seven-Party Alliance” was to begin banned protests and after many government opponents were reported arrested.

“While maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of the State, security considerations should not be the basis for denying citizens their right to peaceful protest – a right for which virtually all avenues seem to be closing,” he said in a statement.


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