Nepal: UN Human Rights Report Paints Bleak Picture for Children

[KATHMANDU, 16 Feb 2006] - Nepal’s violent armed conflict between Maoist rebels and the government has been placing the civilian population in grave danger, said a report released on Thursday by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR) in Nepal.

“It is a tragedy for the people of Nepal that full-scale conflict has now resumed,” said OCHCR-Nepal representative Ian Martin, referring to the escalation in violence following the end of the rebels’ unilateral ceasefire in January 2006.

The Maoists, who have been waging an armed rebellion against the Nepalese government since 1996, had announced a unilateral ceasefire in September 2005 but ended it after four months when the government, headed by King Gyanendra, failed to take up their offer of peace talks.

Since the resumption of hostilities, fierce clashes have taken place in highly populated areas, OCHCR said. Both sides have used public buildings and schools, putting the lives of civilians in danger, the office, which has investigated clashes in four districts of west and east Nepal, added. It also expressed concern that the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) used aerial bombardment from helicopters and failed to distinguish “between civilian and military objectives, as required under international humanitarian law.”

“Children in particular have been placed at risk, including as combatants within the CPN (Maoist), by indiscriminate action by the security forces, including aerial bombardment, and by the placement or abandonment of explosive devices,” said Martin.

In addition, the report also referred to the increasing protection crisis in the country where children’s rights to life, physical integrity, health and education, were repeatedly violated by both sides to the conflict. It said that there were reports of killings, beatings, arbitrary detention, recruitment or other use of children for military purposes, as well as attacks on schools and health facilities.

It added that the great humanitarian challenges in Nepal were aggravated by economic impoverishment, severe social inequality and discrimination.

The report also asked the United Nations to exclude any members of the RNA who had abused human rights from serving in UN peacekeeping operations abroad. “Nepal’s security forces must hold accountable perpetrators of violations within their ranks, who should be excluded from participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations,” said Martin.

About 3,000 RNA members are presently serving in UN missions abroad.

OCHCR’s 99-page report on Nepal’s human right situation will be presented by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, during the 62nd session of the Commission on Human rights scheduled for 13 March in Geneva.

OCHCR established its office in Nepal in May 2005 following an increase in human rights violations in the country after the king assumed direct rule on 1 February 2005.

Source: IRIN



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