Friday, January 06, 2006

Respect int’l humanitarian law :OHCHR

Kathmandu Jan 6-The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Thursday called the Nepal government and the Maoists for full respect to international humanitarian and human rights law, particularly in the aftermath of the breakdown of the unilateral ceasefire.

Urging the parties to the conflict for full respect to international humanitarian laws, an OHCHR statement quoted High Commissioner Louise Arbour as saying, “It is a tragedy for the people of Nepal that full-scale armed conflict may now resume. But there need not and must not be the same gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights standards that have been perpetrated during previous phases of the conflict.”

Reminding that Nepal is a party to the Geneva Conventions as well as to most international human rights treaties, Arbour said, “Its security forces are aware of and must fully respect their legal obligations. The leadership of the CPN (Maoist) has made general commitments to observe international humanitarian law and respect human rights.” “I call on them to declare publicly their acceptance of all that these principles require, and to explain to their cadres their responsibility to respect them in practice.”

The law prohibits attacks against civilians and acts or threats of violence intended to spread terror among the civilian population, and it requires that the parties to the conflict distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives, the OHCHR statement said and added that despite clear legal obligations both parties to the conflict committed serious violations of international humanitarian law.

It added, “Extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and abductions, attacks on public transport buses, the indiscriminate release of bombs from helicopters over targets where civilians were present and were subsequently killed and injured, the widespread torture of detained persons, the inappropriate use or disposal of improvised explosive devices leading to the death or injury of civilians, have all occurred in the context of Nepal’s armed conflict.”
“International human rights and humanitarian law provides special protection for children, including prohibitions on the recruitment and use of children as soldiers or in other capacities related to the conflict. In contradiction with these standards, children have been killed and injured, forcibly recruited, used as informers, and arbitrarily detained and beaten in the context of the armed conflict in Nepal.”

The UN rights chief, according to the statement, also pledged that the OHCHR office in Nepal would be closely monitoring the conduct of both parties in the period ahead and that she would be reporting accordingly to the Commission on Human Rights.

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