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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press briefing note on Maldives, Nepal and Iraq

25 August 2015

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location:  Geneva
Date: 25 August 2015
Subjects:  Maldives, Nepal and Iraq

1)   Maldives

The High Commissioner has expressed his deep concern to the Government of the Maldives after former President Mohammad Nasheed was once again sent to prison late on Sunday.

We had been encouraged by the Government’s earlier decision to move Mr. Nasheed to house arrest after widespread national and international criticism of the clearly flawed trial which resulted in him being sentenced to 13 years in jail in March this year.  

Mr Nasheed was however suddenly transferred on Sunday night to the high-security prison on Maafushi Island. We also understand that force, including pepper spray, was used against his supporters who gathered in the narrow alley around his residence to show their solidarity and protest against his renewed imprisonment.

OHCHR has conducted two missions to Maldives in recent months to discuss these issues with the authorities, and had visited Mr Nasheed both in jail and when he was under house arrest at his residence. The return of Mr. Nasheed to prison in our view constitutes a serious set-back to the human rights situation as well as to moves towards finding a political solution in the Maldives.

The High Commissioner has therefore urged the Government to consider former President Nasheed’s early release.

We also urge the review of pending criminal cases against several hundred opposition supporters in relation to the protests in recent months.

2)   Nepal

We are concerned by reports from Nepal of continuing political violence. Seven members of the security forces and three protestors were reportedly killed yesterday. The two year-old son of one deceased police officer was also killed. This is in addition to the deaths of five protestors during widespread demonstrations since an 8 August agreement by political parties on redrawing internal state boundaries. The agreement was the product of extended negotiations to draw up a new constitution further to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the ten-year internal conflict in 2006. Since the political agreement was reached, increasingly violent protests and strikes against the proposed delineation have taken place throughout the country.

There is a clear risk that the protests and violence will continue to feed off each other in the coming days unless all sides change their approach. The rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are essential elements in the promotion of democracy and human rights. Likewise, protests should be carried out in a peaceful manner. We urge the Government of Nepal to create a climate where minority or dissenting views or beliefs are respected, and security forces only employ force as a last resort and in full accordance with the standards laid out under international law for maintaining public order, including detailed guidelines governing the use of live ammunition.* Moreover, protestors should not pursue violent confrontations with the security services.

We urge political leaders and protestors to sit down together to find a peaceful solution to the current situation before the rising violence spirals out of control.

We fully support the call of the Nepal National Human Rights Commission for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into all deaths and injuries resulting from the alleged use of disproportionate force by security personnel, as well as into the deaths of the seven security personnel killed on Monday.

*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.

3)   Iraq

We are dismayed to learn of the execution of a man, Farhad Jaafar Mahmood, and his two wives, Khuncha Hassan Ismaeil and Berivan Haider Karim, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. They were convicted in April 2014 for the crimes of kidnapping and murder of two girls, and hanged at 2:00 a.m. on 12 August.

These are the first executions to have taken place in seven years, after the Kurdistan Regional Government established an informal moratorium on the use of the death penalty in 2008, and we are deeply disappointed by this new development.

The United Nations opposes the use of the death penalty, even for the most serious crimes. We urge the Kurdistan Regional Government to recommit to and formalise its unofficial moratorium on the use of the death penalty. A growing number of States have abolished this practice, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 62/149 (2007), 63/168 (2008), 65/206 (2010), 67/176( 2012) and 69/186 (2014).

The death penalty was reintroduced in the rest of Iraq in 2004, with the first executions taking place the following year. Since then more than 600 people have subjected to the death penalty in various parts of the country with the exception of the Kurdistan Region. Half of those, exactly 300 executions, were recorded in 2012 and 2013, with a further 62 last year.


For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / [email protected]) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / [email protected])

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