KATHMANDU (23 September 2015) - The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed Wednesday its deep concerns at the continued violence in Nepal amidst protests related to the new Constitution and urged all parties to engage in a meaningful, inclusive and open dialogue.
“With the adoption of the new Constitution, Nepal has reached an important point in the peace process. After all the suffering endured by the population during the internal conflict and the immense efforts to bring lasting peace to Nepal, a return to violent confrontation would be disastrous,” said OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville. Colville called on all sides to resolve their differences through open and inclusive dialogue.
Colville said he is alarmed by the high number of deaths and injuries of protestors, security personnel and bystanders that have occurred during protests. According to reports, at least 41 people have been killed and many injured since August. “We are also concerned about reported attacks against human rights defenders and journalists as well as by vandalism against government buildings during protests,” Colville said.
The protests, which began in August, escalated following alleged killings of civilians, including children, by security forces in the Terai. According to national human rights organizations, including the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the killings were the result of excessive use of force.
“We fully support the call of the National Human Rights Commission for independent investigations into incidents of violence related to the protests. Alleged perpetrators should be prosecuted and sanctioned and the families of the victims compensated,” said Colville.
“We welcome the recent stay order of the Supreme Court on the excessive use of force in response to protests and urge the Nepalese authorities to ensure that existing national and international standards* on the appropriate use of force are fully respected by security forces,” he added.
Noting that the rights to freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly are essential elements in the promotion of democracy, Colville also urged the Government of Nepal to create “a climate where minority or dissenting views or beliefs are respected.”
Colville also stressed that leaders of protesting groups have a responsibility to ensure that demonstrations are peaceful and that their supporters do not carry sticks, guns or other weapons and refrain from attacks against government buildings and property.
*The conduct of law enforcement officials is addressed by a number of specific international standards and codes, including the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
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