Nepal: Call for targeted sanctions

Nepal’s King Gyanendra and his senior officials and top military officers should be refused entry to other countries and have any personal assets outside the country frozen, urged Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) have said.

The organisations issued their call during an international meeting in Geneva convened by the Swiss government to review Nepal’s human rights record.

King Gyanendra assumed total and direct executive authority over Nepal in February 2005. Since then, he and his officials have been responsible for serious human rights violations, including the arbitrary arrest and detention of thousands of critics, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, and severe restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly. The army continues to violate international human rights and humanitarian law in its war against Maoist insurgents.

Amnesty International, HRW and the ICJ said the sanctions should target those directly responsible for setting or implementing abusive policies, including King Gyanendra, his deputy the Vice Chairman of the Council of Ministers Tulsi Giri, his Home Minister Kamal Thapa, his Justice Minister Niranjan Thapa, and his Information Minister Srish Shamsher Rana. The sanctions should also cover top security officers such as Chief of Army Staff General Pyar Jung Thapa, Inspector General of Police Shyam Bhakta Thapa, and the Inspector General of the Armed Police Force Shahabir Thapa.

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan said:

“The human cost of the conflict in Nepal has been catastrophic: people have been killed or ‘disappeared’, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights attacked and raped, Children's rights abducted to fight as soldiers and critics of the regime have been locked up.

“King Gyanendra's government seems impervious to the suffering of the people. The international community must now apply pressure through targeted sanctions that will have a direct impact on the King and his cohorts.”

The three human rights organisations said these targeted sanctions should be lifted only when there is clear evidence that Nepal is complying with the demands of a UN Commission on Human Rights resolution on Nepal issued in 2005.

Nepal’s biggest suppliers of military assistance – India, the USA and Britain – have already suspended the transfer of lethal military assistance to Nepal. Amnesty International, HRW and the ICJ believe that foreign militaries, particularly India, the USA and Britain, should make it clear that they will not have normal dealings with the Royal Nepalese Army until there is a dramatic improvement in its human rights record.

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth said:

“Sanctions targeting the King and top officials responsible for serious human rights violations are necessary to get them to change their abusive behaviour. King Gyanendra’s government has shown that it will only respond to international pressure when its interests are at stake.”

Recent abuses have taken place despite the presence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal and in defiance of a UN resolution urging Nepal to cease arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings, stop the use of torture and ill-treatment, and end impunity for human rights violations committed by members of the security forces.

Nepal’s human rights record has deteriorated in recent weeks. Members of the police and military, under the King’s direct command, have used excessive force to respond to country-wide demonstrations, killing at least six people and injuring hundreds of others. The authorities have detained thousands of protesters. More than 800 continue to be detained under the Public Security Act, many without access to lawyers or their families.

International Commission of Jurists Secretary-General Nicholas Howen said:

“Nepal is in a double crisis – the armed conflict and the conflict over democracy. By sweeping away democracy and stifling legitimate protest and dissent, the King is denying his people the democratic space they need to decide their future and to resolve the conflict peacefully. It is time for the international community to step up its response.”

The latest political repression has compounded an already grave human rights crisis. Nepal’s decade-long civil war has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians, forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee from their homes, and limited access to food, health care, and education. Both parties to the conflict have carried out gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The organisations reiterated their repeated calls on the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to end human rights as condemned by the UN in 2005. The three organisations warned that a combined human rights and humanitarian crisis in Nepal would have implications for regional security.

The human rights groups called on the UN Security Council to put the human rights crisis in Nepal on its agenda and impose a global regime of targeted sanctions against senior Nepali officials. They call on Nepal’s neighbours and major donors, including India, China, Japan, the European Union and the USA, to work together to implement the sanctions immediately.

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