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NEPAL: There is always a price to pay

NEPAL: There is always a price to pay

Last week the U.S. Embassy denied entry permits to Nepalese police officers as they have been stationed at police stations that have alleged track records of human rights violations during the insurgency and in other periods. The Police Headquarter sought help of the Home Ministry after the visas of 14 police officers were rejected as they have been implicated in human rights violations in the past. These officers are under 'Vetting'.

The U.S. Embassy has a policy to deny visa to officers having past record of human rights violations. The Embassy does not disclose visa denial information citing 'confidentiality matter '. The letter to the Home Ministry objected to its policy as it has frequently stopped police officers from receiving personal and professional development in America and elsewhere.

The officers were selected for training, workshops and seminars in the U.S., and UN missions and accordingly filed their visa applications at the US Embassy. Just before flying to the U.S., they received information that their visa applications were denied. The decision was supposedly given at the last moment with incomplete information, according to the police headquarters.

Visas were also earlier denied to police officers who sought to travel to Europe. DSP Rajendra Prasad Aryal, posted at Kapilbastu District Police Office, was not able to participate in a program in Italy. DSP Aryal found that he has been put in vetting just two days ahead of his flight.

The vetting put many police stations and related senior police officers under scrutiny. The decision of vetting has often been slammed as one-sided and hypothetical. Officers from the capital and outside valley of 13 police stations are on the list for their alleged record of human rights violations.

One recent example of universal jurisdiction is the arrest of Colonel Kumar Lama last year on January 3, 2013 on charge of torturing a detainee in 2005 during the Maoist insurgency. The arrest was made when Lama went to the UK to meet his family members living in the United Kingdom. He has been under house arrest since then and cannot leave the UK.

'Universal jurisdiction' is invoked to punish the guilty of international crimes when the government concerned is not willing or is unable to take action against persons guilty of such crimes. The UK invoked 'Universal Jurisdiction' on torture to act on the petition filed on behalf of the victims of alleged torture at the hand of Colonel Lama, when he was heading Gorusinghe Barrack in Kapilbastu district.

It is the clear message to the Nepal Police and Army that the international community is watching their actions. If they are not held accountable for their actions in Nepal, then they have to face consequences as per international law. This is what happens when a country does not have a sufficient and efficient justice mechanism and relevant laws. There is always a price to pay.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) strongly urges the government of Nepal to resume the process of forming transitional justice mechanisms including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to address the human rights violation cases during the Maoist insurgency. Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2006, conflict era victims have been waiting for the establishment of these institutions before justice can be done. Also Nepal is yet to criminalize torture and there is also no witness protection law in the country. Therefore the AHRC urges the government to also bring into force domestic laws to criminalize torture and provide witness protection.

ENDS

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