Nepal court upholds father’s long fight for missing son

February 5th, 2009 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 5 (IANS) A frail and ailing lawyer in southern Nepal who fought a one-man battle against the state and security forces to get justice for his college-going son who disappeared during the 10-year Maoist insurgency has finally received vital support. The nation’s apex court has ordered the police to take action against the guilty officials.Since October 2003, when the Maoist war at its peak and the army was called in to brutally suppress it, Jai Kishor Labh has been battling a deaf administration for information on his son Sanjeev who was arrested by security forces from Janakpur town in Dhanusha district with four other friends from a picnic spot.

Sanjeev was never seen again.

A distraught Labh ran from one government office to another trying to trace his son but drew a blank every time as the authorities denied his 24-year-old son was ever arrested.

Sanjeev joined the ranks of hundreds of people who disappeared during the 10-year war, and Labh and his family were warned not to rake up the matter.

But the dogged father continued doing all he could, including writing to the UN Secretary-General and making his son’s photograph part of New Year greeting cards to keep the issue alive.

He tried to file a complaint at the local police station about the four cops named by eyewitnesses as having been part of the arrest team. The police resisted the attempt and refused to register the complaint.

Then Labh moved the Supreme Court and on Monday won a victory with the judges asking the Dhanusha police to file a complaint against the then police DIG Kuber Singh Rana and three others.

The order means the police officials have to be placed under arrest. Rana is now the chief of the crime division at the police headquarters.

The court decision was hailed Thursday by the UN rights agency in Nepal.

“Recent decisions by the Supreme Court have highlighted the urgent need to address the lack of accountability and to end the culture of impunity in Nepal,” said Jyoti Sanghera, deputy representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR).

“OHCHR encourages the government to act on its commitment to end impunity by taking immediate steps to implement this and other Supreme Court decisions, so as to ensure that the perpetrators of the Dhanusha disappearances, as well as other serious conflict-related human rights violations, are brought to justice.”

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