Nepal: TRIAL Submits a First Case to the Human Rights Committee
On 27 October 2010, TRIAL (Swiss association against impunity) has submitted an individual communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committee regarding the enforced disappearance of Chakra Bahadur Katwal in 2001.
On 9 December 2001, Mr. Katwal received a letter at his school asking him to go to the district’s education office in the Okhaldhunga village in order to respond to an inquiry. When Mr. Katwal arrived at Okhaldhunga a few days later, an employee of the education office told him that he had to go to the district police office in order to answer some questions. From there, Mr. Katwal was allegedly forced into one of the army buildings. The following day, witnesses saw soldiers carrying him by his arms and legs. Mr. Katwal seemed unconscious, his clothes were covered in blood and his whole body showed signs of beating. The victim was transported into the police buildings and has never been seen since.
The spouse and the daughter: Victims of abuse
Since Mr. Katwal’s disappearance, his spouse has not ceased to seek the truth about his fate and whereabouts. Not only have Mrs. Katwal’s efforts proved to be in vain, but she has also suffered from harassment by the Nepalese army. She was also abused during her arrest and detention in 2005, which aimed at silencing her on the issue of the army’s involvement in the enforced disappearance of her husband. Her daughter equally suffered from severe physical and psychological abuse during the six weeks in which she was arbitrarily detained by the army. She had to be hospitalised and is still suffering from significant long-term consequences despite medical treatment.
In July 2006, Mr. Katwal’s relatives petitioned Nepal’s Supreme Court. On 1st July 2007, the Supreme Court confirmed that Mr. Katwal had been arbitrarily arrested and detained by the Nepalese army and police and that the torture he was subjected to had led to his death. The Supreme Court ordered that the people involved in this case and who were cited in the inquiry report be prosecuted. To date, however, the Nepalese authorities have not followed-up on the decision and impunity continues to reign. Mr. Katwal’s family still does not know what has happened to his body.
On 27 October 2010, TRIAL therefore submitted an individual communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committee asking it to recognise that Nepal violated numerous articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights subsequently to Mr. Katwal’s enforced disappearance, even though Nepal has ratified the Covenant; to require an independent inquiry in order to precisely locate the place of his remains and to exhume them in order to allow the family to organise a funeral according to their traditions; to ask Nepal to prosecute the people responsible for Mr. Katwal’s disappearance; to declare that Nepal also violated the Covenant with regard to the suffering caused by Mr. Katwal’s spouse and family owing to his disappearance; to require that Nepal offers integral, prompt, just and adequate reparation for the suffering and the loss due to Mr. Katwal’s disappearance and to pay for the exhumation and funeral costs; and to ask Nepal to provide the necessary guarantees for the non-repetition of similar acts to those suffered by Mr. Katwal and for Mrs. Katwal’s and her family’s safety during the course of the procedure.
The enforced disappearance of M. Katwal is part of the context of a state of emergency that was declared by the Nepalese government in November 2001. The state of emergency allowed the State to increase its repression against persons who were suspected of helping the Maoist insurgents and to derogate from fundamental rights and liberties. The recourse to enforced disappearances, torture, summary executions and arbitrary detentions by State agents and Maoists was generalised during this period. Since it launched this project in 2007, TRIAL has submitted almost 60 cases to different international human rights bodies. These cases concern extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture in Bosnia- Herzegovina, Algeria and Libya. The present case is the first one concerning Nepal.