Let us unite to protect human rights

Bijay Raj Gautam

Executive Director, INSEC

One of the major task of Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) is to monitor human rights status which it has been doing since the day of its establishment. The Nepal Human Rights Yearbook 2022 has been published as a report of the human rights status from January 1 to December 31, 2021. It is the compilation of the incidences of human rights violations and abuses collected by our District Representatives from all the 77 districts of the country.

Regular discussions are held with the District Police Office, District Administration Office, courts and other stakeholders to verify the facts and data included in the Nepal Human Rights Year Book so that the facts in it are true. In addition, review meetings are held twice a year in 77 districts of the country to collect feedback on collected data. We are aware that the Human Rights Year Book is not just a document of INSEC but also of all those who are concerned with the human rights situation in Nepal. Therefore, we are determined to ensure that incidents of violation and abuses do not go unnoticed and are based on facts.

INSEC has documented 6,285 victims of Human Rights violations and abuses in 2021. Among the documented victims of Human Rights violations, 52 were females and 510 were males. There were 5,163 female and 560 male victims of Human Rights abuses.

Among the documented victims of human rights violation, six were killed, 74 died in jail, five died in detention, three were victims of torture, six were victims of threatening, 363 were deprived of their right to assembly, expression and association, 30 were injured, seven were victims of inhumane behaviour, 32 were victims of beating and 35 were arrested.

This year, 3,417 were victims of women rights violations and 1,522 were victims of child rights violations.

In 2021, 3,417 victims of women rights violation were documented. There were 16 victims of attempted trafficking, 2,095 of domestic violence, 31 of witchcraft allegations, 649 of rape, 177 of attempt to rape, 61 of sexual abuse and 42 of trafficking. This year, 112 women were killed by their family members.

Police arrested Shailesh Kumar Lodh, 34, and his younger brother Rajesh Kumar Lodh, 30, on March 7, 2021, alleging that they had killed wfor the alleged murder of Kusum Lodh, 32, of Duvethumuwa in Sammarimai Rural Municipality-5. Kusum was the wife of Shailesh and sister-in-law of Rajesh. The accused had taken Kusum and their 15-month-old child on a motorcycle (Lu 62 Pa 1401) ride to Lumbini Parsa on February 27. Shailesh informed the patrol team from Lumbini’s Area Police Office that his wife was hit by a vehicle numbered (Lu. 2 Ch. 1517) and her jewelry was robbed on gunpoint. The police took the victim Kusum to Bhim Hospital, Bhairahawa in the police vehicle where Kusum was declared dead. The accused brought the deceased to the spot with the intent to kill her and involved his brother to help him. Shailesh stopped his motorcycle in the pretext of urinating and asked his wife to stand by the road. He suggested Rajesh to get a vehicle with an Indian number plate (UP 55 N 8598). Rajesh struck down Kusum with the vehicle and rode it over her body two to three times to kill her. Shailesh used to beat Kusum and she was killed due to a domestic dispute that took place just a day before the incident. Kusum had bought a life insurance policy and Shailesh wanted to get that money. The body was handed over to the family after post-mortem at Bhim Hospital, Bhairahawa on February 28. The accused were remanded to judicial custody on March 23. The case was not resolved until the end of 2021.

In 2021, six women were killed for not bringing sufficient dowry and 10 women were subjected to violence for the same reason. In some cases where a woman was killed by her family members, the victim’s side had accused it to be an intentional homicide while the accused side had stated it to be suicide. Details of such incidents are also included in the district analysis of the yearbook. Complaints of domestic violence are increasing every year. Sometimes incidents of violence against women by family members are kept concealed in the family or in society. In most cases, the accused are being exonerated by blaming the victims.

Complaints received at the police offices are being concealed in the name of reconciliation. The culture of being sensitive towards the victim of physical and mental torture due to domestic violence has not been established yet. The traditional perspective of domestic violence has remained the same. Our representatives monitored the Women and Children and Senior Citizens Service Centres in the District Police Offices of all 77 districts of the country. Reconciliation was found to be prevalent in most of the cases registered at the centre. INSEC estimates that the incidence of violence against women has not decreased due to weak laws and the non-implementation of existing laws.

With the rise of human rights violations and the accountability gap in cases of custodial death, authorities have not elicited responses or actions from authorities. There were five custodial deaths recorded this year, 20 percent of whom belonged to the Dalit community. The absence of independent investigation, failure to identify perpetrators, and no prosecution in cases of custodial deaths impugns serious concerns on the state of human rights protection in Nepal.

Khadga Bahadur Tamang (32) of Barhabise Municipality – 7 died in custody of Area Police Office, Barhabise on 6 August 2021. He was arrested and in custody from August 2 on allegations of theft. He was taken to the primary health centre in Barhabaise as he was not eating properly, demonstrating unusual behaviours, and his overall health had enfeebled.  As briefed by Dr. Anupama Thapa from the health centre, Tamang had bruises on his body and his fingers. For his seriousness, Tamang was referred to Dhulikhel Hospital but declared dead on arrival. INSEC and the National Human Rights Commission conducted an onsite visit to study the case. INSEC’s report concluded police’s negligence as the cause of death of a person whose security is supposed to be guaranteed by the State. The Inspector of the Area Police Office claimed that Tamang was an alcoholic and died because he could not have alcohol in custody.     

The prisoners are not secure even in the prisons. This year seventy-four inmates died in the jail. Similarly, there are documented cases of prison guards ordering senior inmates to physically attack and torture other inmates that have caused unrest in prisons. There have not been any efforts to redress this issue. These incidents signify the escalating human rights violations in prison.

The prisons were accommodating more than its capacity because of which the inmates were compelled to take turns while sleeping. They even had day and night shifts to sleep. The prison reform plans were limited to paper even this year. The condition of Child Reform Homes were also not found to be satisfactory.

The failure of the transitional justice mechanisms to address and redress the grave human rights violations perpetuated during the armed conflict is attributable to the irresponsibility and apathy of political parties in Nepal. It is a shame that the transitional justice process has failed to cultivate the trust of the victims and the national and international human rights community. The order of the Supreme Court of Nepal along with recommendations by the international community to bring perpetrators to justice remains unimplemented. This evidences State’s apathy towards administering justice to the victims of the armed conflict.