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.

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