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Letter to General Sir Peter Wall of UK Army to Address Allegations of War Crimes During Nepal Visit

Gen Sir Peter Wall KCB CBE ADC Gen

Chief of the General Staff, UK Army

MOD Main Building

Whitehall

London

SW1A 2HB

Via facsimile: 02072182474

 

Re: Your visit to Nepal Nov 16-20

 

Dear General Wall,

We write to urge you to use your upcoming visit to Nepal to press the authorities there to fully investigate credible allegations of war crimes committed by Nepali security forces and to hold accountable those found guilty of these abuses. It is particularly important to make this case to General Gaurav SJB Rana, who has so far chosen to shield and reward those responsible for such abuses.

As you know, at least 13,000 people were killed in the decade-long armed conflict between Maoist combatants and government forces which ended with a peace agreement in 2006. There were grave human rights violations committed by both sides, including killings and enforced disappearances of civilians. However, not a single perpetrator has been brought to justice before a civilian court. Instead of investigating serious allegations of abuses by its security forces, the Nepalese army has a record of protecting its own and has even promoted several members suspected of wartime abuses.

The latest instance of this was the promotion of Colonel Raju Basnet (https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/22/nepal-prosecute-don-t-promote-notorious-army-officer) to the rank of brigadier general in October despite credible evidence of systematic enforced disappearances and torture at Bhairabnath Battalion headquarters in Kathmandu under his command in 2003. On the basis of this evidence, in 2007 Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered an independent investigation of these human rights violations. That order includes investigations into allegations that Basnet personally committed acts of torture. Currently, his promotion has been stayed by the Supreme Court, but we remain concerned because the Nepal army has a long history of ignoring court orders.

In the past, we have also brought to the UK’s attention the case of Major Niranjan Basnet, charged with the torture and murder of 15-year-old Maina Sunuwar. Sunuwar was tortured and killed in 2004 at the Panchkal army camp. Major Basnet, who was trained at Sandhurst, admitted to a military investigation that he was present at the barracks during the period of Maina’s detention and interrogation. However, the army found Major Basnet innocent in the court martial inquiry and continues to stonewall any attempt by civilian institutions to hold him or other members of the security forces accountable for their alleged abuses.

The UK provides significant military assistance to Nepal and has commendably stated that human rights and the rule of law are priorities in its training and bilateral support to the country. We are also grateful to the UK for publicly supporting calls for accountability in Nepal. In January 2011, the British Ambassador to Nepal, John Tucknott, told Nepal’s civil society and media that the UKwill continue to work with them and international partners to “try to ensure that no-one is above the law and those alleged perpetrators of past atrocities in Nepal are brought to account. We are further encouraged by the reported denial earlier this month of a UK visa to Nepal’s Inspector General of Police, Kuber Singh Rana, because of credible human rights allegations against him.

In your meetings with the Nepali military, we strongly encourage you to add your voice to these calls for accountability and to press for an end to impunity for wartime abuses by Nepal’s security forces. This is essential not only to provide justice for the victims, but also to ensure that Nepal’s security forces uphold basic rights and freedoms in the future.

We thank you for your consideration of these issues and wish you a productive visit.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 David Mepham                                Brad Adams

 UK Director                                       Asia Director

 Human Rights Watch                    Human Rights Watch

 

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