(Washington, DC) - Nepal’s government should rescind orders authorizing security forces to use lethal force to suppress protests associated with the Olympic torch’s relay up Mount Everest, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today. The torch is scheduled to be carried to the Mount Everest summit on the Chinese side of the border in early May.

The letter urges Prime Minister Koirala to immediately rescind these orders and ensure that authorities uphold the rights to freedom of assembly, expression, and association. The letter also asks that forces refrain from using unnecessary or excessive force against protesters in Nepal.

Human Rights Watch said the Nepali security forces should abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, which call upon law enforcement officials to apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force and only in proportion to the seriousness of the offense. The UN principles allow lethal force only when it is “strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

“Nepal authorities should be using whatever means necessary to protect basic human rights, not violate them,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “With the world watching, this is the moment for Nepal’s new government to prove that it aspires and adheres to international standards.”