Friday, February 17, 2006

Bar security personnel from peacekeeping operations: OHCHR

Kathmandu Feb 17- The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Making public report of the OHCHR that will be presented in the forthcoming 62nd session of the Commission on Human Rights in Kathmandu on Thursday, has asked the Nepal government to bar its security personnel who have been involved in rights violations from peacekeeping operations. Nepali rights groups as well as the Amnesty International had recently demanded that the UN prohibit recruiting Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) personnel in its peacekeeping operations in view of what they call gross human rights violations by RNA.

OHCHR in Nepal has called upon the Nepali authorities to hold accountable what it called perpetrators of human rights violations within the security forces and exclude them from participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations.RNA brass refute such allegations and say the army is committed to uphold human rights of the people. They say over 100 soldiers and officers have already been punished in connection with incidences related to human rights violations.

Participation in the UN peacekeeping missions has been a matter of great repute and a source of substantial revenue for the RNA.

Head of the OHCHR mission in Nepal Ian martin said (the UN) was concerned that aerial bombardments could not distinguish between military and civilian targets. He cited the example o a four year child killed in Makwanpur district during aerial bombardment by the security forces.

Martin further said OHCHR continues to be concerned about restrictions or attempted restrictions on fundamental rights including freedom of expression and freedom of association. He said the great majority of detainees who were arrested (between 20 January and 8 February this year) had been arbitrarily arrested for exercising their right to freedom of assembly or expressing their political opinion.

“Some have now been detained in unsatisfactory conditions for four weeks. In every case brought before the courts their detention is being found illegal, and the authorities should not be waiting fro court orders before releasing all those against whom there is no evidence of involvement in violence,” he added.

“It is a tragedy for the people of Nepal that full-scale conflict has now resumed,” said Martin. He quoted his boss, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour as saying that those on either side of the conflict who commit violations must be held accountable. “This office would be closely monitoring the conduct of both parties,” he said.

The 62nd session of the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva is to be held from 13 March to 21 April this year.

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