Nepal Police appears unwilling to take action against officials involved in extrajudicial killingThe human rights commission had asked that criminal charges be filed against officers implicated in the killing but police say they have yet to receive any official communication in that regard.
Two weeks ago, the National Human Rights Commission had recommended that criminal charges be filed against two Nepal Police officials for their involvement in the extrajudicial killing of Kumar Paudel, a member of the Communist Party of Nepal which has been branded a criminal outfit by the government.
The police have yet to take any action to that effect, on the grounds that they haven’t received an official letter recommending action.
“That letter does not come to us directly. It comes through the Ministry of Home Affairs, which might be taking time,” Nepal Police spokesperson Deputy Inspector General Bishwaraj Pokharel told the Post.
As the line ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs has to direct the Nepal Police for action. “I have no idea about the issue as it is not my department that deals with such directives,” Uma Kant Adhikari, information officer at the ministry, told the Post.
Repeated attempts to get a comment from the spokesperson went unanswered.
According to Bed Bhattarai, secretary at the commission, the letter was dispatched to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Home Affairs on October 22, a day after the commission made the decision. He said the recommendation letter, with the serial number 645, was submitted to the Home Ministry in person.
On October 22, the National Human Rights Commission had directed the government to suspend and file criminal charges against three police officials. An investigation by the commission found that Nepal Police Inspector Krishnadev Prasad Sah and senior constables Binod Sah and Satya Narayan Mishra had first arrested Kumar Paudel, Sarlahi district in-charge of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal, and had extrajudicially killed him.
The commission also asked for departmental action against police Inspector Kiran Neupane and Sub-inspector Surya Kumar Karki for providing false reports.
According to Bhattarai, the commission’s recommendation categorically states the police officers should be immediately suspended even though the National Human Rights Commission Act provides a maximum of two months to respond to directives. But the two-months time only applies to general cases that aren’t severe in nature, said Bhattarai. “Actions must be taken immediately in severe cases like extrajudicial killings,” he said.
The police, however, do not appear to be willing to embrace the commission’s recommendation.
“We will decide how to respond to the letter once we receive it,” said police spokesperson Pokharel.
The Nepal Police’s record when it comes to complying with commissions’ recommendations and taking action against its personnel for extrajudicial killings and other crimes has, however, been dismal.
In the 19 years since the commission’s formation, instead of facing criminal charges, numerous police and Army officials implicated in human rights violations have instead been promoted and commended.
An investigation by the commission had implicated Senior Superintendent Chuda Bahadur Shrestha, Superintendent Kuber Singh Rana, Major Anup Adhikari and Chief District Officer Rewatiraj Kafle in the extrajudicial killing of five youths in Dhanusha in 2003 during the Maoist insurgency. Though the commission recommended that the government take legal actions against the security officials, none of them were charged with crimes or even disciplined. In 2012, the Baburam Bhattarai-led government even promoted Rana to Inspector General.
Paudel was killed on June 20 in Lalbandi, Sarlahi, in what police had claimed was “police action”. According to a report by a team from the Home Ministry, security personnel had opened fire in retaliation after a group of four motorcycle-borne persons fired upon a police patrol. Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa had reiterated before the House of Representatives and Parliamentary State Affairs Committee that Paudel was killed after police opened fire in self-defence.
However, an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission, launched after complaints from family members, discovered that Paudel died under suspicious circumstances and finally concluded that Paudel had been killed extrajudicially.
Every year, the NHRC, after probing cases of human rights violations, asks the government to take action against the culprits. However, on average, barely 14 percent of its recommendations are ever implemented.