Monday, March 26, 2007

OHCHR seeks full investigation on Maina Sunuwar case

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal has said that the police complete a thorough investigation, with full cooperation from the Nepal Army (NA) into the custodial death of 15-year old girl Maina Sunuwar of Kavre.

Issuing a press release Sunday, the OHCHR said that the remains thought to be those of Maina Sunuwar, who was allegedly tortured and died in the custody of the army in February 2004, was exhumed from the premises of the NA’s Birendra Peace Operations Training Centre in Panchkhal, Kavre district, on Friday.

Earlier, in a press statement the Directorate of Public Relations of NA had said that information that remains were found on the Training Centre's premises was baseless and misleading.

“The exhumation marks a crucial step in the criminal investigation launched by police into the girl’s death, which has been stalled for many months due to the NA challenging the jurisdiction of civilian authorities over the case as well as the reluctance of authorities to proceed with an investigation,” the OHCHR added.

“The exhumation Friday of remains thought to be those of Maina Sunuwar marks a crucial step forward in the quest for justice for her alleged torture and death. A full criminal investigation by police must now proceed to determine who was responsible and to hold them fully accountable,” the statement quoted Sandra Beidas, Officer In Charge of the OHCHR-Nepal, as saying.

As part of a court martial, the NA in September 2005 found three military personnel guilty of failing to dispose of the Maina's dead body properly.

The OHCHR further said that the NA had failed to provide court of inquiry and court martial documentation to the OHCHR despite repeated requests.

During her visit to Nepal in January, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, received assurances from the Chief of the NA and the Home Minister that an investigation would be carried out without delay.

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