Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha , lawyer, aged 46

Re: Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha , lawyer, aged 46

To: Brigadier General B A K Sharma, Head, Army Human Rights Cell of Nepal

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

Date: 2003-10-28

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 urgent concern about reports of the disappearance of a lawyer, Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha. He was reportedly arrested by security forces on October 23, 2003.

We are very worried about the safety of Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha. The reports we have received through Amnesty International indicate that three young men dressed in track suits but believed to be security forces personnel, arrived at Mr. Shyam Kuman Shrestha’s house Bagbazar, Kathmandu, at approximately 9 p.m. They said they were taking Shyam Kumar Shrestha to Maharajgunj in Kathmandu for questioning and that they would bring him back the following day. These three men took Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha away in a white taxi. He has not been seen since. His whereabouts are unknown.

The reason for this arrest is not known. Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha is a member of the Nepal Bar Association. The reports we have received indicate he is not a member or supporter of any political party. We understand that the Nepal Bar Association has received no response to its inquiries with the Home Ministry and the human rights investigation offices of the army and the police. We also understand that the National Human Rights Commission is making inquiries.

LRWC is extremely concerned about the situation of human rights in Nepal. It is recorded that in 2002 Nepal had the highest number of disappearances of any country in the world, either by arrest of authorities or abduction by the CPN (Maoist) party. Reports indicate that government authorities are responsible for the arrest and disappearance of this lawyer. LRWC has written to officials of your country in several cases in which lawyers have been detained without charges by authorities, tortured or disappeared.

LRWC requests that you make urgent inquiries and insist that authorities make public the whereabouts of Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha, and grant him immediate access to his relatives, lawyers and any required medical attention. We also urge that you call upon the relevant authorities to ensure he is not subjected to any ill?treatment or torture while he is in custody. We call upon your offices to require authorities to release Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha unconditionally unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence.

We recognize that Nepal currently is facing a serious situation of violence and unrest. Nevertheless, the government of Nepal remains subject to its international obligations, and is responsible to ensure that government security and armed forces, police and other officials comply with Nepal’s constitution and laws and all relevant international instruments, conventions and customary international law. We note that 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 UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Principle 16, which states that governments must ensure that lawyers Ashall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognised professional duties, standards and ethics.@ The reported arrest of Mr. Shyam Kuman Shrestha by security forces is in violation of these international instruments as well as Nepal’s Constitution.

LRWC respectfully requests your immediate, urgent, and personal attention to ensure that Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha is located and his safety assured. We also call upon your government and all its officials to make a renewed commitment to uphold the international human rights conventions to which Nepal is a party, and to uphold Nepal’s Constitution and laws. We would appreciate an urgent response by mail, e-mail or fax. Thank you very much for your concern and attention to this matter.