UN rights chief criticizes Nepal for 'culture of impunity' Andrew Gilmore at 11:49 AM ET
[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Sunday criticized Nepal [press release, PDF] for failing to hold military and government officials accountable for human rights abuses. Arbour spoke on the anniversary of the 2004 death of a 15-year-old-girl [Nepali Times report] who died during an interrogation by the Nepalese Army, characterizing the government's failure to effectively prosecute military officers for Maina Sunuwar's death as symptomatic of a larger culture of impunity existing within the Nepalese government:
Lack of accountability in this and numerous other cases is helping to perpetuate a culture of impunity in Nepal, and there is a danger this could become a barrier to achieving lasting peace. Maina Sunuwar's case presents a significant opportunity for the Government of Nepal to send a signal that the culture of impunity is ending. The successful prosecution of those responsible for her murder will strengthen the rule of law and uphold victims' rights to a remedy.
In September 2005, three Nepalese Army officers were sentenced to six months in jail [JURIST report] for failure to follow proper procedure resulting in Maina's death. The sentencing and trials were dismissed by rights groups [JURIST report] as "a sham." In January 2007, Arbour announced that the UN would work with Nepal [JURIST report] to investigate and bring to justice human rights violators in Nepal. The UN News Centre has more.
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