December 21st, 2009 09:54 EST
Army Must Follow Court Orders in Nepal
We, the undersigned human rights defenders, are seriously concerned about the Nepal Army`s refusal to hand over Major Niranjan Basnet to the civilian court. The army took Basnet into custody on December 12, 2009, from the premises of Tribhuvan International Airport upon his arrival, following repatriation by the UN from its peacekeeping mission in Chad. We strongly demand that the army must produce Basnet, who is an absconding suspect, in the court without further ado and thereby the army respect the process of law.
The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2063 has adopted the principle of independent judiciary. It empowers the court to enforce its authority regarding the administration of justice. The Army Act provides for the adjudication of murder cases by the civilian courts when the case involves murder of civilians by the army. Although the Court Marital punished the army officers involved in the murder of Maina, the Apex Court had ruled that the said punishment was against the existing law. Following this, the Court issued a writ of mandamus against the Office of Attorney General and the Nepal Police directing them to register a case against the officers at Kavre District Court. Following the order, the Kavre public prosecutor has filed a charge sheet of murder in Kavre District Court accusing Basnet along with other perpetrators. The Kavre court had issued arrests warrants against the officers.
The Nepal Army`s refusal to hand Basnet over to the police to be produced in court contradicts the assumption of independent judiciary. It is also an act amounting to contempt of court, is a travesty of the rule of law, and undermines a democratic framework.
The UN vetted Basnet out from the Peacekeeping Mission, as the court had issued arrest warrant against him for his alleged involvement in a murder case, to facilitate his prosecution in Nepal. The law in Nepal authorises the Nepal police to arrest the suspects. However, the Nepal Army`s escorted Basnet to the Army Headquarter from the airport and so far has refused to hand him over to the court. This arises suspicion over the state`s commitment to ending impunity and ensuring accountability in Nepal.
We therefore strongly demand that Army must produce Basnet before the Kavre District Court without any delay and legal action be taken against other perpetrators accused in the case. They are Mr. Amit Pun, Mr. Sunil Adhikari and Mr. Babi Khatri.
The accused standing trial is necessary to end impunity and upholding the rule of law in Nepal.
1. Dharmendra Jha - Federation of Nepalese Journalist
2. Rameshwor Upadaya - Nepal Professor Association
3. Raman Shrestha - Nepal Bar Association
4. Kanak Mani Dixit - Journalist
5. Subodh Pyakurel - Informal Sector Service Center
6. Sushil Pyakurel - Accountability Watch Committee
7. Arjun Bhattarai - NGO Federation Nepal/ Nepal Development Initiative
8. Charan Prasai - Joint Human Rights Forum
9. Govinda Bandi - Accountability Watch Committee/ Citizen Task Force to combat against Impunity
10. Subash Darnal - Jagaran Media Center
11. Renu Rajbhandari - Women Human Rights Defender Network
12. Mandira Sharma - Advocacy Forum
13. Birendra Thapaliya - Human Rights and Democratic Forum/ Citizen Task Force to Combat Against Impunity
14. Bhishma Kadariya - Nepal Justice and Advocacy Forum
15. Hukum Pokhrel - CAHURAST
16. Deepak Bhattarai - COCAP
17. Bhawani Prasad Pokhrel - National Human Rights Academy
18. Kamal Pathak - Advocacy Forum
19. Ashik Karki - CIRAN
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.