Urgent concrete actions required to prevent custodial deaths, says Amnesty Nepal

Nepal must take “urgent and concerted actions” to prevent custodial deaths through appropriate legal accountability measures, a human rights watchdog said, amid continued instances of custodial deaths in the country

Nov 24, 2021
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Nepal custodial deaths

Nepal must take “urgent and concerted actions” to prevent custodial deaths through appropriate legal accountability measures, a human rights watchdog said, amid continued instances of custodial deaths in the country. On Tuesday in a statement, Amnesty Nepal said incidents of deaths in police custody have continued and authorities were failing to carry out independent and credible investigations. The statement came during the launch of this year’s global campaign, titled ‘Write for Rights'.  

Significantly, between June 2015 to June 2020, there were around 18 cases of custodial deaths, according to a report in The Wire. However, there is a larger pattern from officials to deny their deaths. In most cases, these deaths are reported as suicide.

The numbers were even higher during the Covid lockdown. Six custodial deaths were recorded between the period from 24 March 2020 to 24, September 2020 alone, according to a report by Nepal Human Rights.

In January this year, four UN special rapporteurs had expressed “serious concerns” over the continued incidents of custodial deaths and the lack of accountability measures.

"The rising cases of reported custodial deaths is worrisome,” Amnesty Nepal Director Niranj Thapaliya was quoted as saying by The Kathmandu Post. He added, “No one should die in the safety of the state. Once detained, it is the state’s responsibility to protect the lives of the detainees.”

“In case they die in custody, there should be a fair, impartial, and independent investigation into the incident with promptness upholding accountability and ensuring effective remedies to the families of the victims,” he said.

Despite criminalizing torture in custody, the human rights watchdog said that incidents of torture and ill-treatment continued in custody, often resulting in death. 

“No one should be subjected to any form of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under any circumstances. We call on the government for adopting administrative, judicial, and other measures to prevent such deaths in custody,” Thapaliya said. 

The Office of Attorney General and National Human Rights Commission, responsible for overseeing and monitoring detention centers, have failed to fulfill their duties, the statement pointed. 

(SAM)