Mr. Dinesh Raj Prasain, Human Rights Defender

Re: Mr. Dinesh Raj Prasain, Human Rights Defender

To: Prime Minister Sura Bahadur Thapa

From: C.A. Morris, BA, LLB, LLM, Member, LRWC

Date: 2004-01-19

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of Canadian lawyers, provides support internationally to lawyers to in danger and promotes enforcement of human rights standards that protect the right and duty of lawyers to uphold the rule of law.

We are writing to express our concern about reports of the severe beating of Mr. Dinesh Raj Prasain by members of the Royal Nepali Army at his residence in Banasthali, Kathmandu. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders reports that on January 13, 2004, at approximately 12:15 a.m., 6 or 7 men in civilian clothes identified themselves as security personnel and asked Mr. Prasain to open his apartment door to allow them to search for documents, materials and a Maoist individual. Our understanding is that Mr. Prasain feared these men were criminals and refused to open the door. (A month earlier, Mr. Prasain had received death threats from a criminal organization after writing an article in the Nepal Samacharpatra exposing corruption within human rights NGOs.) In the January 13 incident, the men broke open the door, and at least four of the men punched and kick Mr. Prasain in the face, head, stomach, back and thighs. One of the men pulled out a revolver and threatened to shoot Mr. Prasain. One man, called “Major” by the others, continued to beat Mr. Prasain while the others searched the apartment. The landlord and other tenants in the building said approximately 15 uniformed members of Nepal’s army surrounded the building during the incident.

Mr. Prasain has filed an application for his medical examination with the District Police Office in Kathmandu. He plans to file a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission and the Royal Nepali Army’s human rights office.

The Observatory is concerned at the ill-treatment of Mr. Dinesh Raj Prasain, particularly in the context of large numbers of reports of human rights violations by government and Maoist forces, including arbitrary and incommunicado detention, torture, rape, forced disappearance and extra-judicial executions.

LRWC respectfully draws your attention to Nepal’s international obligations. Notwithstanding the current conflict, the government of Nepal remains responsible to ensure that government security and armed forces, police and other officials comply with Nepal’s constitution and laws and that the state of Nepal respects all relevant international instruments, conventions and customary international law. Nepal is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), including the Optional Protocol and Second Optional Protocol, and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. We also draw your attention to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998. Article 1 provides that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international level.” Article 12.2 provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.” Mr. Prasain appears to have been threatened, harassed and beaten as a result of his actions in the defence of human rights and the rule of law in Nepal. This is a violation of the international declarations and conventions to which we have referred, as well as a violation of Nepal’s Constitution.

Therefore, we respectfully urge you to require relevant officials to take all necessary measures to guarantee the safety of Mr. Dinesh Raj Prasain and to put an end to the harassment and ill-treatment to which he has been subjected. We also urge you to direct an independent and impartial investigation into these events so that those responsible may be brought to justice according to the law. We also urge all necessary steps to ensure the implementation of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms provided by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments to which Nepal is a signatory.

Thank you for your attention. LRWC would appreciate your response by mail, e-mail or fax.