Saturday, June 16, 2007

Court-ordered compensation seldom paid

The Kathmandu District Court (KDC) had, three weeks ago, ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Kathmandu District Administration Office to pay Rs 70,000 each to Speaker Subas Nembang and CPN-UML Chief Whip Mahendra Bahadur Pandey as compensation for their illegal detention during the king’s direct rule.“We will approach the authorities after the court prepares a full text of the judgment,” Advocate Tika Ram Bhattarai, who pleaded for Nembang and Pandey, told this .This is, however, not the case of Nembang and Pandey alone. Scores of common people have been waiting for implementation of compensation verdicts for years.Another client of Bhattarai, Ambika Bhandari, was ordered to be paid Rs 50,000 as compensation in a similar case.Human rights activist Gopal Siwakoti and journalist Narayan Dutta Devekota are among those waiting for implementation of similar verdicts.Court had directed the authorities to pay them Rs 50,000 each. The Kathmandu District Administration Office (KDAO) recently sought the Home Ministry’s initiation in releasing budget so that it can pay Rs 50,000 to one Ganga Bahadur Thapa to comply with the order.The KDC had directed the Home Ministry and the KDAO to compensate at least 17 persons in the last five years. However, only a handful of them have so far received the amount.Three torture victims — Amar Narayan Lohiya, Laxmi Prasad Paudel and Ganesh Rai — are still waiting to be paid.Since 2002, the KDC has heard 44 cases for compensation for illegal detention. Judgment on 27 cases are yet to be given. Eleven have been settled and authorities directed to compensate them. Six cases have been dismissed.“Cases seeking compensation shot up in the KDC after the state of emergency in 2002. Prior to that, only a few cases used to be registered,” KDC Registrar Krishna Ram Koirala said.A victim can claim compensation under the Public Peace and Security Act.“The authorities concerned do not always have funds to compensate people. They have to wait till the Finance Ministry releases the budget. This is one of the reasons for the delayed payments,” another advocate said.“There are no provisions in our domestic laws to compensate a person through the property of the perpetrator as the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment demands. As such, getting the compensation amount from government authorities is not that easy,” he added.
-Ananta Raj Luitel, himalayantimes

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