AI Nepal Launches Campaign Urging the Prime Minister to Investigate Cases of Custodial Deaths

Nepal’s authorities must launch an independent and impartial investigation into all incidents of custodial deaths, Amnesty International Nepal said as it launched a new local campaign as part of its annual human rights letter-writing program, Write for Rights.

On June 10, 23-year-old Shambu Sada Musahar was found dead inside the detention room at an Area Police Office in Dhanusha district. Police said he died due to kidney failure. His family dispute this and say he was tortured to death. On July 22, 24-year-old Raj Kumar Chepang died after allegedly being beaten up by a security personnel stationed inside the Chitwan National Park. On August 26, 19-year-old Bijay Ram Mahara, a resident of Rautahat, who had been arrested on murder charges died while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Birgunj. His family too believe he was tortured.

In the last six months alone, there have been at least six reported incidents of custodial deaths as per media reports. Neither the Nepal Police nor the Office of the Attorney General has maintained a record of such deaths.

“The rising cases of reported custodial deaths is a cause for great concern and is emblematic of the flaws in Nepal’s criminal justice system that compromises the rights of detainees, particularly those belonging to marginalized groups,” said Nirajan Thapaliya, Director of Amnesty International Nepal.

Despite the criminalisation of torture in Nepal by the new Country Criminal Code 2017, researches have shown that the practice of torture continues to prevail. As per the existing law, any person found guilty of inflicting torture shall be punished with five years of imprisonment or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both. However, no individual has been prosecuted under this law till date.

«Nobody should be subjected to any form of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under any circumstances. It should be a matter of extreme due diligence on the part of the State authorities whose duty it is to ensure the protection of its citizens to guarantee that those who come under their custody are afforded due care, attention and humane treatment regardless of the reason for their detention,» said Thapaliya.

Through this campaign, Amnesty Nepal will be calling upon Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and all other concerned agencies to launch a set of actions designed to ensure there’s a fair investigation into all incidents of custodial deaths and those guilty of inflicting torture and causing subsequent deaths of detainees are held accountable.

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