Nepal: Human rights monitors - a matter of priority
'Allegations of human rights abuses by both the CPN (Maoist) and the security forces during the cease-fire has led to a souring of the peace process,' Amnesty International said. 'In order to prevent an escalation - now talks seem to have broken down - it is paramount that independent monitors are deployed forthwith.'
The organisation has been lobbying both sides to sign a Human Rights Accord which would give the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) a mandate to set up five regional offices to monitor human rights with technical assistance provided by the United Nations (UN).
The government and representatives of the CPN (Maoist) called a cease-fire on 29 January 2003. Two rounds of peace talks, with the aim of finding a solution to the seven year conflict or 'people's war' launched by the CPN (Maoist) in February 1996, took place in April and May 2003. The Maoists listed a round table conference, an interim government and elections to a constituent assembly to draft a new Constitution among their central demands.
In the lead up to a third round of peace talks in mid-August between the government negotiating team and representatives of the CPN (Maoist), reports of cease-fire violations by both sides to the conflict escalated.
Amnesty International welcomed the appointment by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of a committee to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killings of 19 people by the army in Ramechhap district on 17 August, which it had called for in a public statement released on 22 August.
The organisation was also encouraged that two further committees had been appointed by the NHRC to investigate reports of cease-fire violations by the Maoists in a number of different districts. The organisation called upon both parties to fully cooperate with the NHRC.