Several detained human rights defenders in Nepal have been released and immediately re-arrested by security forces ignoring court orders since King Gyanendra seized direct control in Nepal in February 2005. Mr. Lok Prasad Pant, lawyer and Chairperson of the Civil Society Network (CSN), was released on 9 March 2005 and re-arrested the same day. He is currently believed to be detained without charges and held at the Jail of Surkhet district.
Despite the lifting of the State of Emergency on 29 April 2005, international monitoring groups continue to report of arrests and arbitrary detention of lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders. Other victims of recent illegal re-arrests include:
- Rajendra Rai: former Chairperson of the All Nepal National Free Students’ Union (ANNFSU)
- Gagan Kumar Thapa – former General Secretary of the Nepal Student’s Unition (NSU)
- Chandra Bhandari – former President of the NSU
- Rajan Rai – Central Secretariat Member of ANNFSU
- Thakur Gaire – General Secretary of ANNFSU
Nepal and its external military assistance providers have been garnering greater international concern in recent years regarding increasingly widespread human rights abuses committed in the escalating armed conflict between Nepali security forces and the Maoist insurgency [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA310472005?open&of=ENG-NPL].
On 2 July 2005, C.A. Morris (BA, LLB, LLM) of LRWC addressed a letter of concern to His Majesty King Gyanendra expressing grave concern for the safety of Mr. Lok Prasad Pant and the treatment of other lawyers and human rights defenders by authorities in Nepal. LRWC reminds King Gyanendra of the rights protected by Nepal’s 1990 constitution and his country’s obligations to uphold the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture. LRWC urges the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Lok Prasad Pant and all other human rights defenders and political prisoners who are detained without charge or hearing.
Lok Prasad Panta was released from Surkhet jail in Birendranagar on the 17th September 2005. Upon his release, he was asked to sign a statement that he was not involved in the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and would not join the Maoists in the future. He was also warned by police to not participate in political gatherings nor travel outside of the district of Surkhet without official permission.
On the 10th March the Court of Appeal in Birendrangar determined that his detention was illegal and ordered his immediate release. However, upon returning home that night (10th March), accompanied by his family, lawyers and a group of journalists and human rights defenders, he was seized by police officers and taken away in a police van. The police in Birendranagar initially denied taking him into custody and waited several days before informing his family members of his detention. Within a week, Panta was transferred to Surkhet jail where he was held of six months in preventive detention, under the provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Ordinance.