NEPAL: Police 'torture kids for fun:' rights group

[KATHMANDU, 19 November 2008] - A leading human rights group has accused police in Nepal of torturing scores of children, sometimes for fun.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had received more than 200 reports this year of the torture in police custody of street children or minors suspected of crimes.

"Sometimes, the torture is inflicted to extract confessions from the children," said Human Rights Watch researcher Bede Sheppard.

"At other times it appears to be carried out purely for the entertainment of the official," Sheppard said.

The youngest alleged victim of police torture was a 13-year-old, and methods of torture reported on the minors included kicking, punching, forcing metal nails under toenails and beatings with plastic pipes, the rights group said.

Despite widespread accounts of abuse, no police officer or government official has ever been prosecuted, and the maximum punishment is just a fine and one year in prison, Human Rights Watch said.

"By torturing children in custody they (the police) are committing crimes against those they are supposed to be protecting," Sheppard said.

Police declined to comment on the report, although a foreign ministry spokesman rejected the allegations.

"The report is wrong and baseless," Nabin Kumar Ghimire, a spokesman from Nepal's foreign ministry told AFP.

"If there has been any mandhandling, torture or abuse of children in police custody, offenders will face justice," the official said.

Read the full Human Rights Watch press release here

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