Ensure accountability !
The Constitution of Nepal has ensured the right to live with dignity for every person. State action against the constitution by the state under any pretext is punishable. To detain any person without informing them of the reason for their arrest, to manipulate the right to a fair trial through an independent, impartial, and competent court or judicial body, and to take the law into their own hands via the influence of interest groups are grave human rights violations. The Constitution of Nepal deems it illegal to subject an arrested or detained person to physical or mental torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, and humiliation.
Custodial deaths are not just deaths but should be considered as ‘killing’ by the state. Violation of human rights and ‘killing’ in detention is a serious human rights concern. According to INSEC statistics, the number of deaths in custody in five years amounts to 22 deaths. The number of death in custody throughout five years are; in 2018, two people, in 2019 five people, in 2020 five men and one woman, in 2021, five people, and in 2022 four people. During this period, 6 people (the highest number) died in custody in Lumbini province. Similarly, four individuals, each in Province 1 and Bagmati Province, three individuals, each in Madhesh Province and Sudurpashchim Province, and one individual, each in Gandaki Province and Karnali Province, died in judicial custody.
According to the five-year record documented by INSEC, 45.45 percent (910) people aged between 30-38 years have died in custody. Approximately 27.27 percent (96) of people aged 40 to 48 died in custody. The record shows that a total of 18.18 percent (94) people aged 19 to 22 years, 4.54% (91 ) people aged 58 years, and 4.54% (91) people aged 15 years died in custody. Similarly, the highest number of death, 31.81 percent (97) people, were in the Kshetri community. In terms of caste and ethnicity, 22.72 percent (five) deaths were of the people from the tribal community, 18.18 percent (four) were of Dalit community, 13.63 percent (three) were Brahmins, 9.09 percent (two) were of Yadavs, and 4.54 percent (one)was from the Muslim community. According to the statistics, in 2019, a 15-year-old Dalit boy from Jhapa committed suicide by hanging when under police detention. In 2020, a 30-year-old Chhetri woman from Rautahat died in custody.
It is imperative to end the existing series of torture the accused from the minority, marginalized and Dalit communities are subjected to by the police, who are already discriminated against by the social structure. Four special representatives of the United Nations have written a letter to the Government of Nepal regarding the investigation into the cases of death in custody in Nepal from October 2019 to August 2020 and justice for the victims.
The government should take responsibility for deaths in custody and pay attention to the trend of deaths in detention. Deaths in custody occur in state-controlled environments making the government responsible, and accountable for such deaths. Regardless of the manner of death, incidents of death in custody must be considered as State Killing.
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