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Nepal Urged To Tackle Impunity For Sexual Crimes

UN urges Nepal to tackle impunity for sexual crimes committed during conflict

24 June 2008 - The United Nations human rights office in Nepal has urged the Government to do more to punish perpetrators of sexual crimes committed during the country's decade-long armed conflict and to support the rights of victims.

The call made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-N) comes just days after the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at ending sexual violence in situations of conflict.

The resolution demands that all parties immediate stop sexual violence against civilians and begin taking measures, from the training of troops and upholding of military discipline procedures, to protect women and girls.

It adds that sexual violence crimes should be excluded from amnesties reached at the end of conflicts, and calls on States to also strengthen their judicial and health-care systems to provide better assistance to victims of violence.

"This resolution has important implications for Nepal, where the full extent and impact of sexual violence during the decade-long conflict is not yet known, and where the Government is in the process of designing transitional justice mechanisms," the Office said in a news release.

It has found that survivors face a number of difficulties when speaking up about these crimes, including a lack of medical, legal and psycho-social assistance available for the victims and lack of access to justice.

"The authorities have often been reluctant to pursue investigations, or even to accept the lodging of a first information report (FIR), particularly in cases where security force personnel are implicated," the Office stated.

As such, the Council's resolution "serves as a timely reminder to the Government of Nepal to include the issue of sexual violence when establishing the framework of mechanisms to deliver transitional justice," it added.

The authorities are encouraged to protect and promote the rights of women and increase support for victims of sexual violence, as well as make greater efforts to change the attitudes in society that result in stigmatization of victims.

An estimated 13,000 people lost their lives in the country's civil war which ended with the signing of a peace accord between the Government and Maoist rebels in 2006.

ENDS

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