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Press briefing notes on Nepal and Bangladesh

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 24 November 2015

(1) Nepal


We are alarmed by reports that at least four people have been killed and many injured, from both sides, in violent clashes over the weekend during protests in the Terai area of southern Nepal. The latest killings bring to at least 50 the death toll since protests against the new Constitution began in August this year.

There is conflicting information about how the events unfolded late Saturday night, particularly about how the violence began. Reports suggest that protestors in front of the district police station in Saptari district pelted stones and used other violence against the police, who then responded with the use of live ammunition. We have also received allegations that after protesters were taken to nearby Sagarmatha zonal hospital for treatment, police entered the hospital and assaulted the protestors and hospital staff. There is a clear need for an independent investigation to establish the facts and to bring all perpetrators of violence to justice. We have been urging Nepalese authorities to ensure that existing national and international standards on the appropriate use of force are fully respected by security forces. Unfortunately, reports suggest that these steps do not appear to have been taken and more lives have been lost. The protestors must also renounce the use of violence.

In addition to 50 deaths, many more individuals have been injured, prevented from working, prevented from going to school or from receiving essential medical treatment.

The protesters, from ethnic Madeshi groups, have been demanding that their concerns be addressed in the Constitution. They have been conducting a campaign of strikes and obstructions along the border between India and Nepal. On 8 November, the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal issued a report on this crisis and noted that the shortage of fuel, cooking gas, medicine, food and essential goods has deeply affected life in the country. We stress that any obstruction of essential supplies and services is a serious violation of international human rights law, including the right to life. We call on all parties involved on both sides of the Nepal-India border to immediately ensure effective, safe and rapid passage of supplies.

We have been urging all parties to engage in a meaningful, inclusive and open dialogue, to create a climate where minority and dissenting views are respected. We call on the authorities to work with the National Human Rights Commission to ensure that the concerns of the protestors are heard and constructive solutions are found. It is crucial that all parties involved work together towards a fair and sustainable resolution of this situation.

(2) Bangladesh

The execution in Bangladesh on Sunday of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid brings to four the number of people hanged following convictions by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal. Mujahid, leader of Jamat-e-Islami and Chowdhury, of the Bangladesh National Party, were sentenced to death by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal on charges of war crimes and genocide. The Supreme Court rejected their appeals on 18 November 2015.

Since its inception in 2010, the Tribunal has delivered 17 verdicts, of which 15 have resulted in the imposition of the death penalty against members of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Bangladesh National Party. All those who were convicted were accused of committing crimes against humanity, genocide and other international crimes in 1971.

We have long warned that, given the doubts that have been raised about the fairness of trials conducted before the Tribunal, the Government of Bangladesh should not implement death penalty sentences. Similar concerns were expressed by UN human rights experts who, on several occasions, called on the Government to halt the executions, as the trials did not meet international standards of fair trial and due process as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bangladesh is a party.

The UN opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, even for the most serious international crimes. We renew our call on the Government of Bangladesh to immediately institute a moratorium on the death penalty and abolish this inhuman practice altogether.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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