Monday, April 30, 2007

Maoists hindering safe return of displaced persons: OHCHR
The United Nations office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) Monday said that the Communist party of Nepal-Maoist was failing to meet past commitments to allow the safe return of those displaced during their insurgency and to give back confiscated property.
Issuing a press release today, the OHCHR said that despite both the government and the Maoists making repeated commitments to respect such internally displace persons' right to "voluntarily and safely return" to their homes, the cadres of the latter were not complying with the party's formal commitments.
"OHCHR’s regular monitoring activities in rural areas in recent months indicate a failure to implement such central-level commitments, due to the attitude and activities of village-level CPN-M cadres as well as the failure of district level CPN-M leaders to hold cadres accountable for not allowing or facilitating safe and sustainable return of IDPs," the release said.
The UN Human Rights body also said that it had noted that many IDPs had not returned home due to fear of CPN-M local cadres.
"In addition to receiving reports of persons trying to return but being chased away, and in some cases, beaten up by local CPN-M cadres," the release read.
The OHCHR has also raised concerns regarding the continued existence of the Maoist's parallel government and kangaroo courts as well as restrictions on political freedom placed by the party cadres.
"OHCHR has also observed in many areas an absence of neutral and independent law enforcement, de facto CPN-M control of government and society and limited freedom to associate with and campaign for political parties other than the CPN-M," the UN body said adding, "Some local CPN-M cadres expect returning IDPs to “account for past wrong-doing” once back in their village, for example by appearing before “people’s courts”.
Likewise, it also states that displaced individuals who are land owners or political leaders from other parties are often found to be labeled "feudals" and "criminals" by the Maoists.
“CPN-M leaders have long pledged to permit displaced people to return to their homes and to also return all of their property to them. Now that they are part of the Interim Government it is time for them to prove that they have the will to ensure that those promises are transformed into action at the local level,” OHCHR representative Lena Sundh said in the press release.
The OHCHR has called on the Maoists to ensure that:
• Local CPN-M cadres effectively allow unconditional, dignified and safe return of all persons recognized as IDPs;
• At the village level, returnees can rely on independent, effective law enforcement efforts, freely conduct political activities and express their political views;
• Local cadres return all land and property confiscated from IDPs (while ensuring that “secondary occupants” are not left homeless);
• District-in-Charges hold VDC-level cadres accountable for failing to ensure such return conditions for return;
• As a member of the Interim Government, it actively pursues state support to the livelihoods of returning IDPs while fulfilling their temporary basic needs.
NHRC laments human rights abuses during Terai agitations
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed serious concern over the media reports about human rights violations during the agitations in Terai.
Issuing a press statement on Sunday, NHRC said serious human rights abuses were committed by the two factions of Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM), the Chure Bhawar Ekta Samaj (CBES) and Madhesi Tigers during their bandhs (general strikes) in recent days. The rights watchdog noted that one person died in a clash that took place following a dispute over alleged mistreatment of Madhesi people during the ongoing bandh called by CBES in Terai districts while a CBES member was killed in police firing on Friday. Likewise, two persons were killed by the JTMM-Goit and JTMM-Jwala Singh each last week.
Ambulances and vehicles used by human rights monitors also obstructed by bandh organisers, NHRC said.
Describing these activities as acts of serious human rights violation, the NHRC asked the agitating groups to stop attacks, abductions and forced bandhs. The rights body also urged the government to respect civic rights and use minimum force while maintaining security.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

CJ appoints wife as section officer
Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel has appointed his wife Premlata Poudel to the post of section officer at his private secretariat at Baluwatar, which some judges say is morally questionable ekantipur reports.
The appointment letter undersigned by the Chief Justice shows that she has been working as a third class gazetted officer since the day after he assumed his post on July 30, 2005.
"You have been appointed to the post of Section Officer (third class gazetted officer) at the Private Secretariat of the Chief Justice at Baluwatar until another order. Please execute assigned work with honesty and loyalty," reads the appointment letter. As a section officer she is entitled to a monthly salary of Rs 9,000.
According to the law on terms and conditions for judges of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice can appoint an under-secretary, a section officer, a technical section officer and two peons to his private secretariat. The appointment of Mrs Poudel is, therefore, not legally questionable. "However, the state has given these privileges to the Chief Justice on the assumption that these officials may have to work round-the-clock to help the Chief Justice in his day to day work," said a Supreme Court justice.
Former secretary of the Judicial Council Kashi Raj Dahal argues that the privilege is not given to the Chief Justice so that he can appoint his own wife. "It is a question of morality," he said.
Efforts over the last two weeks to get a comment from the Chief Justice failed.
Some Supreme Court justices told The Kathmandu Post that the CJ should not have appointed his wife as section officer since she already enjoys previleges from the state as the spouse of the Chief Justice.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

62 parties register at EC

As the deadline for their registration ended on Friday, sixty-two different political parties have registered at the Election Commission (EC) as per the new provisions enshrined in the interim constitution.

For the purpose of Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, 62 parties have registered as per the interim constitution whereby those parties that are not represented in the current parliament have produced over 10,000 signatures.

"Now the Commission will determine working procedures and immediately start the process of verification of the signatures as well as other aspects," Laxman Bhattarai, spokesperson of the EC told reporters.

Bhattarai informed that the EC would probably use sampling method to verify tens of thousands of signatures that the parties have produced.

Those parties whose applications are not deemed adequately appropriate will be given a week to correct.

Because of the constitutional provision making it mandatory for the parties to produce 10,000 signatures, the number of parties registered at the EC this time is comparatively less. In the previous election, there were 150 parties registered at the EC.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dwarika's sues website for slander
Dwarika's, one of Asia's top hotels, is again embroiled in a dispute. This time, the dispute is about cyber crime, police said.
Even as a land ownership dispute continues between the hotel and Krishna Prasad Dhakal, a worker at a guest house in Thamel, Dwarika's on Thursday filed a police case against Dhakal and a website (www. run by his supporters, stating that the website is ruining the hotel's image internationally.
While the website has been advising tourists not to check into Dwarika's, the hotel faces a headache as there is no strong cyber law in the country.
After consulting legal advisors several times, the hotel filed an application against the website and Dhakal demanding that the website be stopped and compensation paid by it to the hotel for damage caused, according to Prachanda Shrestha of the hotel's legal department.
The operator of the website could be fined up to Rs 100,000 and jailed for up to five years if found in violation of the country's cyber law.
Dhakal and his supporters said they resorted to running the website to pressure the hotel management to comply with a Kathmandu District Court verdict of July 26, 2004. The court had asked Dwarika's to demolish the front part of the hotel built on land claimed by Dhakal.
Ambika Devi, owner of the hotel, later moved the Appellate Court against the District Court order. A decision from the Appellate Court is pending.
The website has warned tourists that Dhakal and his supporters could do anything at anytime to take back the property, and damage caused to tourists in such an eventuality would be nobody's responsibility.
Police, CDO did not act on time :NHRC
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said lack of coordination between civil police, the Armed Police Force and the chief district officer (CDO) was the main reason behind the failure to avert the Gaur carnage.
In a report released Thursday, NHRC said the number of civil police personnel was too small to contain the scuffle that erupted between cadres of the Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) and the Maoist-affiliated Madhesi Mukti Morcha (MMM), and added that the higher authorities had failed to send reinforcements despite repeated requests.
The report further said that things took a nasty turn as the CDO remained out of contact at the time and the civil police and district-based APF personnel failed to coordinate mutually for intervention in the violence between the two parties. It alleged that failure on the part of the local administration to take the initiative for ensuring beforehand adequate peace and security at the program venue and other parts of district headquarters was the reason behind such a high death toll.
At least 29 people, mostly Maoist cadres, were killed while 30 others were critically injured in the Gaur incident on March 21.
The report has recommended to the government, the agitating MPRF and the CPN-Maoist to avoid such untoward incidents in future. The national human rights watchdog has asked the government to take action
against the chief district officer who, according to the report, failed to execute his duty, and also urged stepped up
efficiency in avoiding such incidents.
The NHRC likewise urged the MPRF not to take any action which is against the law of the land and asked it to help the government take action against the guilty. The report has alleged that the CPN-M was responsible for provoking MPRF cadres by organizing mass meet at the same venue and time.
According to the report, most of the MPRF cadres were carrying bamboo sticks. It was also found that the MPRF chased the Maoists, who were comparatively small in number, and took them under their control before killing them in brutal fashion.
Lawyers not held, claim Chure protesters
Activists of Chure-Bhawar Ekata Samaj have claimed that they had not held or detained 33 lawyers as reported.
According to talks coordinator of Samaj Babu Thapa, they had made arrangements for respectful stay overnight of the lawyers after their bus was not allowed to move. They are said to have been allowed to move in the morning with security escort.
Earlier reports said 33 lawyers were held by Chure protesters from Hariaun of Sarlahi district on Thursday afternoon.
The lawyers who were traveling on a reserved bus from Hetauda were held by Chure activists to protest the arrest of their 9 workers by the government, the reports said.
Following the report, the emergency meeting of Nepal Bar Association (NBA) held on Thursday had condemned the move by Chure Bhawar and has asked them to immediately release them
Apex court directs govt to regulate child adoption

The Supreme Court has issued directives to the government to review overall domestic child adoption law, making it compatible with international law so to bring an end to child trafficking in the name of adoption.A division bench of Justices Khil Raj Regmi and Sharada Prasad Pundit passed the strictures directing the government authorities —the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet, the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare — to review the domestic legal provisions in this regard.Justices Regmi and Pundit signed the full text of the judgment yesterday and the SC is preparing to forward the text to the defendants for their initiatives to implement the directives.The bench directed the authorities to suitably amend the draft of the Civil Code 2006 before its promulgation and implementation, as it is now a public document. The bench ruled that the existing domestic legal provisions are not enough to regulate child adoption in the country.According to the figures of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, 1,715 children were adopted after 2000. The Ministry of Home Affairs allows the inter-country adoption of children and Nepalese have been adopted in 17 countries, including US, Italy, France and Spain. On an average, more than 300 adopted children are sent abroad every year.Challenging the Adoption Chapter of the Country Code 1963, advocate Nirmala Uprety had filed a public interest litigation last year in the apex court. The Section 9 (b) of the chapter requires 30-year gap between the adopted father or mother and the child, but the same is not followed strictly.
Six royal kingpins quizzed over graft charges
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Thursday interrogated six functionaries of the erstwhile royal regime on charges of misuse of state funds to suppress the last year’s Jana Aandolan.
Then royalist ministers Radha Krishna Mainali, Keshar Bahadur Bista and Salim Miyan Ansari, then regional administrator Chhatra Bikram Shah and then zonal administrators Min Bahadur Pal and Ramji Bista recorded their statements at the CIAA regarding the corruption charges.
The CIAA had grilled Mainali earlier also while Bista and Ansari were handed summon notices on Sunday.
Acting on the report of the Rayamajhi Commission, the anti-corruption body has already interrogated the vice-chairmen duo of the royal regime, Dr Tulsi Giri and Kirti Nidhi Bista, then ministers and former Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Pyar Jung Thapa on misuse of state funds during the direct rule of the King.
The government has authorised the CIAA for investigation into corruption-related cases as pointed out by the Rayamajhi Commission.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Supreme Court registrar using illegal number plate

Supreme Court Registrar Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena has been using a vehicle with an illegal number plate - an offence under the Traffic and Transport Management Act, 1993 ekantipur reports.
His newly-bought Daihatsu Terios has a red number plate, meant only for private vehicles. No government vehicle can use a red number plate unless for a specified reason, and without permission from the Home Ministry.
A Post investigation has found that Dr Timalsena has been using the red plate on his vehicle, registered in the name of the Supreme Court, without permission from the Home Ministry.
Dr Timalsena has not even written to the ministry for permission as of April 23, according to records at the Home Ministry on Department of Transport Management (DoTM).
According to Clause 160 (3) of the Act, Dr Timalsena's offence is subject to punishment in terms of a fine up to Rs 1,000.
However, a concerned home ministry official, preferring to remain anonymous, said, "The offence is new and serious in nature. The vehicle must be seized and departmental action must be taken against the guilty."
Dr Timalsena, however, argued that the number plate is legal. "The vehicle is yet to be registered and the process of registration is on," he said.
But the DoTM Chief Buddha Bir Lama, showing records, said that the 3.2 million-rupee vehicle was registered on March 24. And Dr Timalsena has been using it for the last one month.
DoTM officials have also flouted the law by allowing Dr Timalsena's vehicle to have an illegal number plate.
"We faced practical difficulty in asking for a mandatory legal permission of the Home Ministry from the Supreme Court during the time of registration since we came to know that the SC Registrar was going to use the vehicle," Lama said, conceding DoTM's mistake.
Lama immediately ordered his subordinates to write an urgent letter to the Supreme Court regarding the illegal number plate. "I will first write to the SC for clarification, and then take action against the vehicle if the law is not respected," Lama said.
Besides, sources at the Supreme Court said that the Registrar's red number plate has also drawn the attention of court employees. Fearing possible misuse of court vehicle with red plates the SC Concern Committee of court staff recently demanded all the red plates be changed into white, including that of the Registrar's vehicle.
"We have changed the plates of the vehicles used by officials up to the rank of joint registrar, but our attempt to have a white plate on the Registrar's vehicle has failed," a court official said on condition of anonymity.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Police refuse to register case against MPRF
The District Police Office (DPO) Rautahat has refused to register murder cases filed by the Maoists against more than 100 cadres of the Madhesi Peoples' Rights Forum (MPRF) for their alleged involvement in the Gaur massacre.
The DPO rejected the cases since it suspected the charges were biased, police said. As the Maoists mentioned the names of even other party leaders in their list of the guilty, police decided to register the cases only after investigations, sources said. "As the names of some persons having no connection with the killings featured on the list, it was difficult to register the cases without study," police said.
"The DPO has referred the matter to higher authorities," said Superintendent of Police Yogeshwor Romkhani.
For security reasons, the police have kept secret the names of those accused by the Maoists.
At least 27 Maoist cadres were killed in the clash with MPRF supporters at Ricemill area at district headquarters Gaur on March 21. Five Maoist cadres are still missing since the incident, according to the Maoists.
The Maoists have expressed fury against the police authorities for not filing the cases. Samir, district committee member of the Maoists, accused the police of dillydallying in registering the cases.
OHCHR expresses concerns over disappeared people
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal has said that no meaningful steps have yet been taken to find out the whereabouts of disappeared citizens and that the perpetrators of serious human rights violations continue to enjoy total impunity even after a year of the restoration of democracy.
In a statement issued on the occasion of the first anniversary of Loktantra Tuesday, the OHCHR-Nepal said establishing rule of law is essential to ending impunity, as well as to ensuring respect for a broader range of human rights. By starting a process of change, the government and political leaders have demonstrated courage and a willingness to address certain critical human rights issues.
The statement read, "Bringing about deep and meaningful change to strengthen human rights protection in the long term takes time and requires the collaborative efforts of all sectors of Nepalese society. With political will, there is much that can be done in the short term to satisfy the human rights aspirations of the Nepalis people."
It stressed the need to create an environment for the constituent assembly elections with adequate security, and without fear, intimidation or violence must be a priority. "This is the responsibility of all political leaders, but especially the government. Law enforcement agencies have a special role in ensuring these conditions," the statement added.
OHCHR also urged the government to act quickly to appoint new commissioners so that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) could fully play the key role in promoting and protecting human rights throughout the peace and electoral process.
"One of the most pressing needs is to address accountability and the right to justice of the many who have suffered violations or abuses at the hands of the State or the Maoists, both during and after hostilities. Probe commission reports such as that of the Rayamajhi Commission have never been made public or their recommendations implemented," the OHCHR statement read.
"The progress that has been made in human rights must not be taken for granted. There is much more which needs to be done, with many challenges lying ahead. OHCHR-Nepal reiterates its commitment to do all it can to assist in strengthening the protection of human rights in support of the peace and electoral process," the statement quoted Lena Sundh, chief of OHCHR as saying.

Monday, April 23, 2007

CIAA interrogates Dr Giri, Bista

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Monday interrogated the two vice chairmen of the erstwhile royal government, Dr Tulsi Giri and Kirti Nidhi Bista, on charges of misuse of funds to suppress last year’s mass uprising.
Bista reached the CIAA office at around 11:00 am while Giri entered the CIAA after the hour-long questioning of Bista completed.
Giri had recorded his statement on Friday also while Bista was given a seven-day notice to appear before the CIAA on Sunday. The CIAA panel told them that they might be called again for another round of interrogation, it is learnt.
The CIAA has been interrogating former royalist ministers and others who have been accused of squandering stage funds to suppress the people’s movement.
The CIAA, which has been authorised to probe corruption-related cases as pointed out in the Rayamajhi Commission report, has already quizzed several royal kingpins including then ministers Ramesh Nath Pandey, Dan Bahadur Shahi, Badri Mandal and Salim Ansari.
Anti-disappearance laws in the offing
The government is set to amend the existing Civil Code to incorporate anti-disappearance and abduction provisions, a move many believe is a response to the call of national and international human rights community.
Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has prepared a draft bill to amend the Civil Code for the 12th time and has sent it to parliament for enactment.
The proposed legal provisions in the draft clearly state that disappearance and abduction are crimes and are subject to imprisonment and fine.
This is the first time, Nepal is preparing to adopt such laws since there is no specific law as of now to deal with disappearance and abduction cases. More interestingly, abduction and disappearance are still out of the domain of crime under the existing laws of the land.
The bill defines disappearance as an act that prevents the family of detainees from knowing his/her whereabouts after the expiry of the legal detention period. Besides, any act depriving detainees from his/her legal rights in detention will also be considered as disappearance.
Similarly, the bill states that any act of detaining/capturing individuals forcefully or by showing weapons, or by issuing threats is abduction.
The bill has proposed up to five years imprisonment and Rs 50,000 fine as punishment to perpetrators of disappearance. Similarly, the crime of abduction is subject to 12 years imprisonment and Rs 100,000 in fine, according to the bill.
The national and international human rights community has been demanding such laws to deal with disappearances and abductions for a long time. But successive governments hadn't taken their call so seriously till date.
The draft bill is definitely good news for the human rights community. But the proposed bill has remained silent on whether it will be applicable to the outstanding disappearance and abduction cases.
According to National Human Rights Commission, 612 people have remained missing in the hands of security forces, while 182 are in the hands of Maoists since the beginning of armed insurgency in 1996. The International Committee of Red Cross puts this figure at over 800.
CIAA grills ex-minister Pandey, summons four royal kingpins

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Sunday interrogated the Foreign Minister of the erstwhile royal cabinet, Ramesh Nath Pandey, on charges of misuse of state funds to suppress the Jana Aandolan-II.
Pandey went to the CIAA office to record his statement as per the summon order issued last week. Talking to reporters after the questioning, Pandey denied the corruption charge saying that he was not involved in any kind of financial irregularities.
Meanwhile, the anti-corruption body today issued summons to then vice-chairman of the royal cabinet, Kirti Nidhi Bista, and then ministers Kesher Bahadur Bista, Buddhiman Tamang and Salim Miyan Ansari for questioning on similar charges.
On Friday, the CIAA had grilled the first vice-chairman of the royal government, Dr. Tulsi Giri, then minister Radha Krisha Mainali and two others on charges of squandering government funds to suppress the people’s movement last year.
The CIAA, which has been authorised to probe corruption-related cases pointed out in the Rayamajhi Commission report, has already grilled former Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Pyar Jung Thapa and several other royal kingpins

Friday, April 20, 2007

CIAA interrogates Tulsi Giri, three other royal kingpins

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Friday grilled vice-chairman of the erstwhile royal government, Dr. Tulsi Giri, former minister Radha Krisha Mainali and two others on charges of misuse of state funds to suppress the Jana-Aandolan-II last year.
Dr Giri and Mainali reached the CIAA office at 11:00 am and recorded their statements for nearly two hours. The CIAA also interrogated two regional administrators of the royal regime, Rabindra Chakrabarti and Prajapati Koirala, on similar charges.
The CIAA had three days earlier directed royalist ministers Ramesh Nath Pandey, Krishna Lal Thakali, Buddhi Raj Bajracharya, Durga Shrestha, Khadga Bahadur G.C, Ram Narayan Singh, Madhukar Shusmsher Rana and Badri Mandal and then regional administrator Rabindra Chakrabarti to appear at it's office within seven days to record their statements.
Acting on the report of the Rayamajhi Commission, the anti-corruption body has already interrogated some ministers of the King's cabinet as well as the then Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Pyar Jung Thapa on misuse of state funds in suppressing the democratic movement.
Earlier, the government had asked the CIAA to look into the corruption related matters as pointed out by the Rayamajhi Commission and take necessary action against the former ministers of the royal cabinet and political appointees who were involved in corruption
Govt, MPRF, Maoists responsible for Gaur killings: OHCHR report

UN human rights watchdog OHCHR-Nepal Friday held the government, Maoists and Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) responsible for the Gaur killings, which left 29 dead.
In a press release publicising the UN body's report on the incident, OHCHR Nepal chief Lena Sundh said that all three sides, the MPRF, the government, and the Maoists shared the responsibility for the Gaur killings.
"The incidents highlighted once more the weaknesses of law enforcement agencies who, aware of the potential for clashes and other violence, were grossly ill-prepared to ensure effective crowd control," the release said, adding that the Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force had failed to prevent the violence from happening by not persuading the organizers to move or postpone the rallies.
"The mechanism to coordinate security and law and order, the district security committee chaired by the Chief District Officer, broke down and failed to function on the day of the rallies".
"The Gaur incidents have demonstrated the fragility of respect for the human rights and the capacity of the State to protect them," the release further said.
The report has also not exculpated the Maoists, stating that the CPN-M action in organizing a rally at the same time and place as the MPRF, as it has done in other locations too, was provocative.
"Its (CPN-M) cadres also brought at least one weapon and at least one socket bomb to the rally. Such actions are incompatible with declarations of respect for the right to life, freedom of expression and assembly."
The OHCHR has also urged the CPN-M top brass to give clear directives to its cadres not to disrupt rallies and political activities by organizations with different political opinions and has flayed both the CPN-M and the MPRF for involving children under 18 in its programs.
"Both the CPN-M and the MPRF exposed children under 18 to the possibility of harm by including them in their rallies, in contravention of international child rights standards; one girl died".
Meanwhile, the OCHHR report has debunked all rumors of rape and mutilations of the five female victims of the incident before they were killed, stating that the OHCHR found no evidence of rape or sexual mutilation in course of its interviews with witnesses and others.
"According to medical experts, there were no external signs of rape on any of the female victims. OHCHR is concerned that the public diffusion of such allegations without proper verification only served to augment the anguish of the victims’ relatives," the release said.
Maoist victims move SC

A group of Maoist victims today filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking its order to government authorities and leaders of eight parliamentary parties to rehabilitate and compensate them.They have also sought a commission to find out the facts of those missing during the conflict.The petitioners, including chairman of the Maoist Victims’ National Movement Committee, Bhojraj Timalseina, made the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet, top leaders of the eight political parties and the Parliament the defendants. They claimed that at least 60,000 people have become internal refugees due to Maoist threats and at least 6,000 were killed in the conflict. They also said that the Maoists are yet to return property they have seized from at least 40,000 people.“Such Maoists activities violate several fundamental rights guaranteedby the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007. The apex court should intervene in the matter,” the petition stated.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Curb Sandalwood Smuggling: CIAA

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Wednesday directed the government to promulgate an Act to prevent the smuggling of Red Sandalwood out of the country. The direction came following a meeting between officials of the CIAA, secretaries of the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Home, Finance and representatives of the Police Headquarters, Kathmandu Forest Office and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

‘Child-friendly’ VDCs in 8 districts in the offing

The government is coming up with Child Friendly village development committees (CFVDC) to ensure that the fundamental rights of children are protected. Eight districts in the country will have such VDCs within the next four years.The CFVDCs will ensure children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation in the community level as mentioned in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Nepal is also a signatory, Shiva Poudel, the acting executive director of Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB), said .The programme will be executed by focusing on four main units in the VDCs, such as child-friendly local government, child-friendly community, child-friendly family and child-friendly organisations and institutions, he said.A VDC level ‘Implementing and Monitoring committee’ would work out the detailed plan of action for the programme. It will analyse the situation in each VDC and adopt an approach and methodology to work out the plans and programmes. The programmes will be formulated in consultation with authorities concerned and children, adolescents, women, indigenous nationalities, dalits and community based organisations like schools, health posts and social activists.From the feasibility study conducted in the VDCs and a municipality where the programme will be implemented, 36 indicators have been identified to achieve the goals.The indicators are physical infrastructure of schools, their distance from homes, status of teachers, drinking water facilities, shelter, health facilities, status of mothers and pregnant women in the families, non-discriminatory environment, gender issues, and status of child protection.The community level indicators are drinking water and roads.Health services need to be accessible, births must be safe and child participation must be ensured in the activities of the community if a child-freindly environment is to be created.The Godak VDC in Ilam, Tetria VDC in Morang, Gedhiguthi VDC in Rautahat, Maheshpur VDC in Bara, Fokhel VDC in Makwanpur, Parspur VDC in Banke, Dodhara VDC in Kanchapur and Inaruwa Municipality in Sunsari have been selected for the programme.Poudel said the CFVDCs have been conceptualised to bring out the capabilities and skills of the children to light.
2.2m citizenships distributed
The government on Tuesday said over 2.2 million citizenship cards were issued by mobile distribution teams across the country since the teams were mobilized on January 15.
Speaking at a press conference organized in his office, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said the mobile teams distributed altogether 2,250,869 citizenship cards in all 75 districts of the country. This includes 1,055,180 citizenship cards in terai, 1,022,268 in the hilly and 173,421cards in the mountain regions of the country.According to a press statement, altogether 2,065,531 citizenship cards were distributed on the basis of descent, while 119,343 others received cards on the basis of birth. Likewise, altogether 65,705 people have been issued citizenship cards on marriage basis and 290 others became naturalized citizens.
The House of Representatives reinstated after the success of the democratic movement in April had passed the Nepal Citizenship Bill-2063 BS with a majority vote on November 26, 2006. Besides granting opportunity for people settled in Nepal before and since 1990 to acquire Nepali citizenship, the ratified bill has provisioned for individuals to receive citizenship through the maternal line for the first time in the history of Nepal.
Minister Sitaula informed that distribution work has already been completed in 64 districts, while the deadline for distribution has been extended until April 28 in seven districts --- Saptari, Dhanusha, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Parsa, Accham and Kailali--- in Terai region. Likewise, the citizenship distribution work will continue until May 12 in four mountain districts - Humla, Dolpa, Mugu, and Mustang.
The distribution work could not be completed within the stipulated date in the districts due to growing unrest in terai region and incessant snowfall in the upper Himalayan districts until a month ago.
The government had deputed 562 mobile teams to distribute citizenship certificates in various districts across the country from January 15. The government had to extend the deadline for one more month though it initially planned to complete distribution work within two months.
Minister Sitaula claimed that mobile distribution has settled the existing problem of citizenship. "The campaign to distribute citizenship through mobile teams has ended. But distribution will continue from the local administration," he said.
He also said the government will cancel illegally acquired citizenships and initiate legal action against those helping to acquire the cards through fake details.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

CIAA summons Tulsi Giri, 10 others

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has summoned 11 former royalist functionaries including the vice chairman of erstwhile royal government, Dr. Tulsi Giri, for interrogation on charges of corruption.
CIAA summoned Giri along with nine then ministers including Radha Krishna Mainali, Ramesh Nath Pandey, Madhukar Shumsher JB Rana, Durga Shrestha, Buddhi Raj Bajracharya, Badri Prasad Mandal, Ram Narayan Shrestha and then regional administrator Rabindra Chakrabarti.
The CIAA has asked all 11 people to appear before its panel within week to record their statement.
The CIAA has been authorised by the government to implement the report of the Rayamajhi Commission which has indicted them in suppression of the Jana Andolan-II and misuse of funds.
The government has handed over the responsibility of implementing the report of the probe commission led by former Justice of the Supreme Court Krishna Jung Rayamajhi. The report has recommended action against 202 persons for their role in suppressing the April uprising.
The CIAA has already summoned some ministers of the then royal cabinet including then home ministers Kamal Thapa and Dan Bahadur Shahi, then minister for information and communication Tanka Dhakal, state minister Shrish Shumsher JB Rana and then Chief of the Army Staff, Pyar Jung Thapa, in this connection.

SC asks govt to form panel for ex-Kamaiyas

The Supreme Court on monday directed government authorities to form a committee for the rehabilitation of former Kamaiyas (bonded labourers) in seven districts of the far-western region.A joint bench of justices Balaram KC and Rajendra Prasad issued directives to the Home Ministry, Finance Ministry, Ministry of Local Development, Land Reforms Ministry and other government bodies to set up the committee to ensure employment for the former Kamaiays of Bajhang, Baitadi, Bajura, Achham, Doti and Dadeldhura districts.The apex court was hearing on a complaint filed by a group of legal practitioners on November 5, 2004.The SC has already directed the government to form the committee for the former Kamaiyas living in Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur.

Friday, April 13, 2007

CA elections not possible on June 20: Election Commission
Ending the long suspense over the possibility of holding the Constituent Assembly elections on June 20, as agreed by the ruling eight parties, the Election Commission (EC) on Friday said it was not possible to hold the elections by the stipulated time.
Speaking at a press conference at the EC Office today, Chief Election Commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokhrel said a number of "technical processes" were yet to be completed and that the time left was too inadequate to complete necessary preparations before the CA polls could be held.
According to our correspondent Durga Khanal, CEC Pokhrel also urged the government to give at least 110 days to the commission before announcing the polls date.
"A number of election-related laws are yet to be formulated and enacted. The government should give at least 110 days to the commission to hold the CA polls after formulating all election-related laws," said CEC Pokhrel.
Leaders of the eight parties had reached an agreement on April 1 to hold the elections on June 20.
On the same day, the interim government including the Maoists was also formed.
Earlier, while signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the parties had agreed to hold the CA elections by mid-June (within the Nepali month of Jyestha) but just before the Maoists were inducted into the interim government, the eight party leaders had decided to defer the polls date to June 20.
On the other hand, the CPN-M, one of the major allies of the ruling coalition government, had time and again warned that they would begin fresh rounds of protests if the CA elections were not held by the stipulated time.
Meanwhile, in the run-up to the CA elections, the Election Constituency Delineation Commission (ECDC) had handed in its report to the government on Thursday recommending an increase in the number of electoral constituencies by 35.
As per the ECDC suggestions, the total number of constituencies now will be 240 to elect representatives on the first-past-the-post system. The ECDC had recommended allocating at lest one constituency per 96,000 people in the Hilly and Terai regions.
The government was scheduled to hand in the ECDC report to the Election Commission today itself.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

OHCHR-Nepal asks govt to form probe commission on disappearances
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR Nepal) has expressed concern about the uncertainty over investigation into the allegations of forced disappearances from the Nepal Army’s Bhairabnath Battalion in Kathmandu.
“OHCHR-Nepal remains concerned about the continuing uncertainty regarding investigations into the allegations of torture and disappearances from the Bhairabnath Battalion barracks in 2003. Almost one year from the date that OHCHR presented its report on these cases to the Government, a full and independent inquiry has yet to be established,” an OHCHR-Nepal statement issued today said.
The OHCHR also said the Army never made public the report of its special investigation into the cases nor did it provide the OHCHR-Nepal with a copy despite repeated requests.
The UN rights body further said it had noted "unprecedented investigations" carried out by the Supreme Court Task Force into the arrest and forced disappearance of Rajendra Dhakal, Bipin Bhandari and Dil Baharur Rai, and Chakra Bahadur Katuwal in 1999, 2002 and 2001 respectively. The Task Force’s report presented to the SC on 8 April 2007 concluded that there was a general practice of arbitrary arrest, torture, murder and systematic and widespread enforced disappearances as part of the state’s counterinsurgency programme during the conflict.
The Task Force also concluded that members of the security forces were responsible for the arrests, and named individual security force members as responsible for the four disappearances, as well as in one case of death in custody.
The Task Force in its report had recommended that the court issued a directive to the government to set up a high level commission of inquiry into disappeared persons while the government has also expressed commitment in its Common Minimum Programme to investigate in the disappearances.
“OHCHR-Nepal is calling on the Interim Government to fulfill this commitment by holding broad consultations with civil society and other stakeholders in order to establish a credible, competent, independent commission to look into those who disappeared after arrest by security forces or abduction by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist),” the statement said and that such a commission should have powers to order access to documents and subpoena individuals to appear before them.
“Delays in setting up proper, independent inquiries to clarify the fate of all the disappeared is simply prolonging the agony of their families, who do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones or what happened to them, as well as denying them the right to truth and justice,” OHCHR-Nepal chief Lena Sundh, said.
Earlier, the OHCHR-Nepal and the National Human Rights Commission had revealed that at least 49 detainees disappeared from the Bhairabnath Battalion in 2003.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Second amendment in Interim Constitution in the offing
The government has decided to go for second amendment in the Interim Constitution, incorporating some new provisions that will pave way for setting the date for constituent assembly election as well as remove the King by two-thirds majority of the Interim Legislative Parliament if he is found ‘conspiring’ to disrupt the election.
A cabinet meeting today decided to direct the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to finalise the draft of the amendment in the Interim Constitution.
Government spokesperson and Minister for Information and Communication Krishna Bahadur Mahara said the amendment was necessary before the government could announce the election date as the Interim Constitution states that CA election will be held by June.
Apart from the provision on removing the King, the second amendment will incorporate a clause that will enable the parliament to unseat the Prime Minister by two-thirds vote.
Earlier, the eight parties had agreed to amend the constitution for a second time with these provisions.
The first amendment was made on March 9 to accommodate the demands of agitating Terai groups for more parliamentary seats from the region and the federal structure of the state.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Panel wants retrospective law ending impunity

A task force headed by Appellate Court Judge Lokendra Mallik on sunday suggested the Supreme Court issue directives to the government to enact a retrospective law ending impunity and to punish security personnel involved in disappearing people in the past.
The task force today submitted its report to the SC after a five-month-long investigation on four missing persons.
The report said that the apex court must direct the government to form a high-level commission to find out the truth about people missing during the conflict and compensate families of the victims.
The task force indicted chief of the Central Division barracks of the Nepal Army in Hetauda, Lt Colonel Krishna Murari Neupane, of killing one Chakra Bahadur Katuwal.
The report says that Katuwal, a headmaster of a school in Okhaldhunga, was arrested and detained in the barracks and later killed by security men following orders from Neupane.The report also indicted late captain Dinesh Thapa, Deputy Superintendent of Police Hanuman Shah and Inspector Liladhar Paudel in the case. The panel also indicted former Assistant Chief District Officer of Okhaldhunga, Purusottam Adhikary, police inspectors Durga Lal Chaudhary, Kamal Prasad Giri and Chakra Basnet and 17 others in the case.
The panel said there is no hope of finding alive the three other missing persons —Rajendra Dhakal, Bipin Bhandari and Dil Bahadur Rai — who were arrested by the forces and kept in the Bhairav Nath Barracks.“There is no hope of finding them alive,” Judge Mallik told journalists.
The task force indicted Inspector Kush Bikram Rana of disappearing advocate Dhakal and Sub Inspectors Bijaya Pratap Shah and Durga Lal Chaudhary of disappearing student leaders Bhandari and Rai.
It further advised the government to initiate action against the officials by immediately suspending them from service.A division bench of Justices Khil Raj Regmi and Kalyan Shrestha had formed the panel some seven months ago.
“Justices Regmi and Shrestha have told us that they would study the report seriously,” Mallik said after submitting the report to the Justices.
The bench has scheduled for Wednesday a verdict on the habeas corpus case on the four missing persons.
The panel suggested the SC direct the Parliament and the interim government to enact the law to punish the guilty as per the international laws making such disappearances as crime against humanity. The report also advised the Supreme Court to issue judicial strictures to the government and the police to stop illegal arrest and detention.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Maoists in Court for Toting Illegal Arms

The Morang District Administration, for the first time, has filed a case against two Maoist cadres for carrying an illegal weapon.The police filed a case against Maoist Sunsari area number 2 secretary Amaresh Kumar Mehta and cadre Shambhu Sharma of Belgachiya-9 under the Arms and Ammunition Act. Activists of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF) had handed over the Maoist duo along with a pistol to the Morang police after they clashed with Maoists on Wednesday.Former ward chairman of Belgachiya-2 and MJF supporter Birendra Mandal was injured in the clash between MJF activists and Maoists at Bhimpur in Sunsari.The Maoist duo, which was also thrashed by the MJF men, is undergoing treatment in Koshi Zonal Hospital, Morang Superintendent of Police Gopal Bhandari said. He added that legal action would be initiated against the Maoists after they are discharged from hospital. The penalty for carrying illegal arms is two years under the Arms and Ammunitions Act. Bhandari said action would be initiated against all those who are caught weapons.The Maoists’ district committee claimed that the allegations against its cadres were baseless. Maoist district in-charge Dinesh claimed that the local administration had framed the duo.
ECDC set to hand in report suggesting around 500 CA seats

The Election Constituency Delimitation Commission (ECDC) is set to hand in its report that includes suggestion to settle on an approximate 500 parliamentary seats to the government.
According to sources, the commission is gearing up to finalise the report and is likely to hand it to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala tomorrow.
The commission's 15-day deadline to submit its report ends tomorrow.
The ECDC's member secretary Shambhu Man Amatya said that since the commission had completed all its tasks on time, it would not be asking for an extension of the deadline.
The commission has determined the new set of election constituencies based on the census conducted in the year 2001.
According to the 2001 census, 51 percent of the total population resides in the hilly and mountainous regions while the percentage is 49 in the Terai region.
The commission has suggested the government determine election constituencies to reflect the same proportions, sources said.
According to sources, the commission has concluded that the constituent assembly must have a minimum of 471 and a maximum of 517 members.
The interim constitution states one member will be elected each from the 205 election constituencies, 204 seats to be elected through proportional representation system and 16 members elected by the council of ministers, making a total of 425 members in the CA.
The government had setup the 6-member commission headed by former Supreme Court justice Arjun Prasad Singh on March 25.
The political parties had suggested the ECDC to determine the election constituencies without reducing the number of existing constituencies

Thursday, April 05, 2007

CIAA Appeals SC to Decide Joshi’s Case

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Wednesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel's initiation to decide an appeal against the decision of the Special Court that awarded a clean chit to former minister Govinda Raj Joshi.The anti-graft body has requested the apex court to settle all constitutional and legal issues raised by the Special Court while giving clean chit to Joshi.After the CIAA's plea was produced before him on Wednesday, Chief Justice Paudel directed the court officials to collect all corruption cases pending in the Supreme Court and produce them before him along with the CIAA's plea. According to SC Spokesperson Durga Prasad Dawadi, the Chief Justice said he would take appropriate decision after the administration produces all corruption cases before him.The Special Court had given clean chit to Joshi, who is also a sitting member of the interim parliament, on the ground that the CIAA had filed the corruption case against him beyond the time limit required by Clause 29 of the CIAA Act, 2048 BS. As per this clause, a corruption case against anyone should be filed within a year after his/her removal from any public post. The CIAA has accused Joshi of accumulating about Rs 40 million misusing his authority while in power.The CIAA had filed the appeal against the four-month-old verdict of the Special Court two months ago.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

CIAA grills ex-army chief Thapa
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Tuesday interrogated the former Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Pyar Jung Thapa on charges of misappropriation of funds.
Thapa had gone to the CIAA office this afternoon in answer to a summons by the CIAA.
Earlier, Thapa had been issued a summons letter on March 28 which ordered him to report to the CIAA within eight days of issuance of the letter.
The High-Level Probe Commission (HLPC) formed under the coordination of former Supreme Court justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi to investigate atrocities and corruption committed during the royal regime had recommended action against Thapa, finding him guilty of misappropriating funds worth around Rs 20 million during his tenure as the CoAS.
Legal Experts Flay New CA Poll Date

Legal Experts on Sunday expressed concern about a consensus between top leaders of the eight political parties on holding the Constituent Assembly elections on Ashad 6 (June 20). They said the decision contradicts a provision in the Interim Constitution-2007 which states that the polls should be held within the month of Jestha.“It is the responsibility of the state to hold the elections within Jestha 2064 BS (June 2007).The government cannot defer the date without first amending the constitution,” former president of Nepal Bar Association, Shambhu Thapa, told this daily. The political parties today reached a consensus to defer the polls by six days. “This shows that we are not abiding by the constitution, but are dominated by the interest of the politicians.” Under the responsibilities, directive principles and policies of the sate, the Interim Constitution has a provision to hold the CA polls within the month of Jestha.Senior advocate Shree Hari Aryal also questioned the decision of the political parties. “The government cannot defer the poll date without amending the constitution,” he said. However, NBA president, Bishwakanta Mainali, said the poll provision is not an operative part of the statute and may not be strictly followed.

Monday, April 02, 2007

NHRC records 640 cases of human rights abuses in four months
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recorded 640 cases of human rights violations including murder, abduction and disappearance within a period of four months - from October 31, 2006 to February 5 this year.
A NHRC report publicised today says that out of the total 640 recorded cases, 123 people were killed – 86 by the security forces, 30 by the Maoists and 7 people by others including the two factions of Janatantrik Terai Mukti Murcha (JTMM). Most of the murder cases occurred in Terai districts like Bara, Sarlahi, Morang, Sunsari and Dhanusha.
Similarly, 65 people were abducted by the Maoists during the four months period while the security forces were responsible for disappearance of 65 people. 20 people were abducted, or involuntarily disappeared, by other groups.
According to the NHRC report, 66 people underwent torture - 32 by security persons, 27 by Maoists and six by others. Likewise, 57 people were displaced due to Maoist threats. The Maoists seized properties of 41 people during this period.
Other cases of human rights violation include threats, mistreatment and exploitation of children and others.
Speaking at the programme organised to publicise the report, NHRC secretary Dhruba Nepal said human rights violations continued despite the signing of comprehensive peace accord.
Nepal said both the government and the Maoists must work seriously to end the culture of impunity. He also demanded that the government appoint senior officials at the NHRC as early as possible