Nepal teenager’s murder goes unpunished even after 7 yearsFebruary 17th, 2011 - 4:01 pm ICT by IANS
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Feb 17 (IANS) Rights organisations in Nepal and abroad Thursday urged the new government of Nepal to bring to justice the army officers and soldiers responsible for the torture and killing of a 15-year-old school girl, whose case has now become a rallying point for victims of the 10-year armed insurrection.In 2004, soldiers went to interrogate 10th grader Maina’s mother Devi Sunuwar, who had witnessed the rape and killing of a relative. On not finding her at home, they instead dragged away the teen.
Maina was taken to the army peacekeeping training centre in Kavre, where she was administered electric shocks and had her head held under water till she died.
After the killing, her body was buried in the perimeter of the centre and the army denied having any hand in her disappearance.
Despite refusals by the authorities to lodge any complaint against the army, Devi Sunuwar fought a dogged case, supported by the Kathmandu-based rights group Advocacy Forum.
Though an army court martial later found Major Niranjan Basnet, Babi Khatri, Sunil Prasad Adhikari, and Amit Pun guilty, they were however charged with crimes lesser than murder and Basnet even received a posting to UN Peacekeeping operations in Chad, regarded as a reward.
After rights bodies and Nepal’s media raised a hue and cry, the UN returned Basnet but despite a warrant for his arrest, the Nepal Army prevented it.
“Maina’s family is still waiting for justice for her killing,” Advocacy Forum, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists said in a joint statement Thursday, observed by rights groups in Nepal as the seventh anniversary of the murder.
“(That) as in so many cases of crimes during the armed conflict, suggests that the realization of victims’ right to a judicial remedy for serious crimes remains a distant dream in Nepal.”
“Seven years on, after her family’s tireless pursuit of justice at great risk to themselves, and after clear decisions from civilian authorities, not a single arrest has been made,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Maina’s case is emblematic: if justice cannot be found for her, then there is little hope for justice for all the other victims who suffered at the hands of all sides of the conflict.”
The Maoists, who are expected to join the government, also continue to defy court orders in cases involving their cadres.
“We have consistently pointed out that the failure to hold perpetrators accountable on both sides of the conflict drives the continuing culture of abuses,” said Mandira Sharma, executive director of Advocacy Forum.
“There is a direct link between past impunity and continuing impunity, and there will be no movement forward as long as all sides continue to benefit from ignoring victim and justice issues.”
The UN also urged the fledgling government of Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal to arrest the four guilty army men.
“Upholding the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law by fully complying with court orders is an essential principle of a democracy,” the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal said in a press statement.
“Continuing to ignore court orders perpetuates impunity in Nepal and sets a negative precedent regarding all human rights cases.”
- Nepal Army absolves schoolgirl's murderer - Jul 16, 2010
- Nepal major fired by UN arrested for killing girl - Dec 12, 2009
- UN expels Nepal soldier charged with schoolgirl's torture death - Dec 09, 2009
- Nepal Army in fresh row - Dec 28, 2009
- Five years after war, hundreds still missing in Nepal - Aug 30, 2011
- Nepal war long over, but 1,300 still missing - Aug 30, 2010
- Nepal promotes army officer with tarnished human rights record - Dec 24, 2009
- Justice still eludes Nepal's civil war rape victims - Oct 01, 2011
- Rights abuse reports surface on Nepal's festival of lights - Oct 16, 2009
- Nepal's children still in line of fire: UN - Apr 24, 2010
- Nepal sees growing custodial torture of women - Jun 26, 2011
- UN flays Nepal for appointing murder suspect as minister - May 05, 2011
- Not a single war crime punished in Nepal, rues UN - Apr 19, 2011
- Rights groups cry foul as Nepal denies torture at UN - Jan 26, 2011
- Nepal agrees to free child soldiers by February - Dec 05, 2008
Tags: 10th grader, adhikari, advocacy forum, armed conflict, army officers, distant dream, electric shocks, government of nepal, group advocacy, human rights watch, international commission of jurists, khatri, niranjan, old school girl, pursuit of justice, rallying point, s media, serious crimes, tireless pursuit, un peacekeeping operations