The Fate of Nepal's Missing Persons
Even after 20 months since the Comprehesive Peace Agreement, Nepal has not initiated any concrete step in making the whereabouts of her disappeared people.
The following is a summary of report on situation of forcefully disappeared people durig the period of armed conflict in Nepal. The report is issued by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Act of enforced disappearance of a person is a serious human rights violation. It severely affects the right to life including the right of freedom and security of the victim/s. During the period of decade long armed conflict in Nepal, several persons were arrested and forcefully disappeared by the security force and similarly forcefully abducted the people and kept them in anonymity by another party, the CPN Maoists, as a result, a large number of people have been suffered/victimized. Though the actual data on numbers of people forcefully disappeared by the conflicting (warring) parties are not available; however, out of a large number of forcefully disappeared people, whereabouts of many of them are not being public yet. Although the Government of Nepal and the CPN Maoists made commitment in the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) signed on November 22, 2006 in making the whereabouts of the disappeared people public, that has not been implemented yet. Make the whereabouts of the forcefully disappeared people during the armed conflict public, provide compensation and relief to the victims’ families and take legal action against the guilty are the important aspects of the transitional justice. But, even after 20 months period of the CPA, the state has not initiated any concrete step in making the whereabouts of the disappeared people public. In such situation, this report has been prepared to make the concerned authorities accountable in providing justice to the disappeared people.
2. Situation of Enforced Disappearance
During the armed conflict, there were the practices as the security forces in plain cloth took the persons into control even without giving their identity; held the incident in anonymity and families/relatives of the arrested person/s were not informed about the incident. There were numerous incidents of arrest of the persons at the nighttime and then made them disappeare.
During the period, the security forces did not allow to meet the persons under custody with their relatives and the lawyers and thus made them disappeare.
Before and after arrest, it was not even informed that the person was held under what type of charge. Similarly, almost detainees were not informed about where they were held.
During the period, there was also a practice of re-arrest of the released persons by the order of the court or completing the term of the imprisonment.
It was also found that during the state of disappearance, almost detainees were subjected to various kinds of physical and mental torture and even some were found killed.
During the armed conflict, following a tireless initiation, the National Human Rights Commission was provided access to custodies inside the barracks to obtain information about the detainees, yet there was not the condition for unrestricted access in all places.
It was found that the CPN Maoists abducted the persons alleging them mainly for spying and held in anonymity. After the success of the People’s Movement II, some of the brother/sister organizations of the CPN Maoists were also found with taking people under control with the purpose to present before so-called people’s court of the Maoists.
The CPN Maoists did not provide any clear introduction and carried with arms while abducting the people and, after taking the person/s into control, they did not provide any information to the families/relatives and concerned stakeholders and also imposed ban on visitors.
It was also found that the CPN Maoists imposed various kinds of physical and mental torture to the abducted people and some were even killed.
Numbers of persons disappeared by the State
Region/ Made public/ Killed / Disappeared till date/Total
Eastern 147/ 6/ 77/ 230/
Central 967/ 68/ 215/ 1250/
Western 126/ 5/ 43/ 174/
Mid western 129/ 55/ 302/ 486/
Far western 58/ 8/ 34/ 100/
Total 1427/ 142/ 671/ 2240/
Source: National Human Rights Commission, Disappearance Unit
National Human Rights Commission was established in May 26, 2000 (Jestha 13, 2057) as per Human Rights Act 1997 (2053). The period was being affected by the armed conflict. After establishment, the Commission received 2290 complaints of disappearance by the security forces, out of which whereabouts of 671 persons is still unknown.
At least 43 persons including 4 women believed to be detained in the Bhairabnath and Youdhbhairab Battalions of the Nepal Army are remained disappeared.
Numbers of persons held in anonymity following abduction by the CPN Maoists
Region/ Made public/ Killed/ Disappeared till date/ Total
Eastern 286/ 1/ 74/ 361/
Central 278/ 15/ 58/ 351/
Western 35/ 0/ 13/ 48/
Mid western 69/ 1/ 141/ 211/
Far western 71/ 4/ 13/ 88/
Total 739/ 21/ 299/ 1059/
Source: National Human Rights Commission, Disappearance Unit
Similarly, the Commission received 1059 complaints related to holding in anonymity by the CPN Maoists following abduction and, out of it, whereabouts of 299 persons is remained still unknown.
In some of the complaints related to disappeared, as the addresses were not clearly provided as a result the contact could not be made therefore it has been difficult to know their real condition. However, the evidences were received in relation to almost incidents.
3. Major activities of the Commission against the disappearance
The Commission monitored all the custodies, detentions and prisons of all 75 districts in the series of learn about the conditions of the disappeared persons. Initially, though the Commission was obstructed from monitoring into the army detention centres later on after the efforts of the Commission, it was provided access to the army detention centres for monitoring.
The Commission has established a separate unit under its Protection and Monitoring Division in order to investigate on the incidents of forceful disappearance and abduction. And, the unit has been undergoing the investigation process.
The Commission performed 7 exhumations at different districts (Dhading- 3, Kavrepalanchowk-2, Dailekh-1 and 1 in Kailali-1) in order to make the condition of disappeared persons public. As a result, the conditions of some persons were become public and the evidences were collected to precede the action against the guilty.
The Commission has forwarded its recommendation to make public of whereabouts of 37 persons disappeared by the security forces and 10 persons abducted and held in anonymity by the CPN Maoists and to release them as well as to provide relief and compensation to the victim/s and take action against the guilty.
In order to make the whereabouts of the disappeared people public, the names of the disappeared people were publicized in various newspapers at different dates.
The Commission has assisted in the judicial process by submitting the evidences and findings of the investigation to the court and performing role as an amicus curie at the bench and prosecuting for condition of disappearance, human rights and judicial remedies and drawing attention against the re-arrest and rescue of the victims.
As per decision to request the Government to invite the UN Working Group on Disappearance and Torture and the Special Rapportuer, the Commission provided information on the situation of the enforced disappearance in Nepal to the visiting team led by Stephen Toope, Chief of the UNWGEID in December 2004.
The Commission holding the meetings with high level officials from the government and the security forces at different dates appealed to make the whereabouts of the disappeared people public.
Government sent the Draft Bill on Disappearance Crime and Punishment to the Commission for necessary suggestion. In this regard, the Commission sent the section- wise suggestions coding that the provisions in the Bill should be in line with the international standard.
In order to undertake investigation in case the disappeared person was killed, the Commission has developed the ante mortem form with assistance of the expert and trained its staff to fill the form. Use of the form in the exhumation act has supported to identify the disappeared person.
Posted by Editor on August 30, 2008 8:49 AM