Nepal: ICJ calls for end to political interference in case of Dekendra Thapa killing

dekendra_thapaThe Nepali government must ensure that the case of the 2004 killing of journalist Dekendra Thapa (photo) can proceed without further political interference, the ICJ said today.

“Political interference into an ongoing criminal investigation constitutes a fundamental attack on the rule of law in Nepal,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ Nepal Country Representative. “The Government must ensure that there are no further attempts to subvert the course of justice.”

On 11 January, Nepal’s Attorney General, Mukti Pradhan, sent a written instruction to the local police and prosecutor not to move forward with the investigation and prosecution.

In response to a petition challenging the instruction, on 16 January, the Supreme Court ordered both Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and the Attorney General not to intervene in the ongoing investigation.

The Home Ministry subsequently ordered the transfer of officials involved in the investigation, and the Prime Minister himself has made public statements calling for the suspects to be released pending the much-delayed formation of a promised truth commission.

“It is now the obligation of the justice system to ensure due process and the right to a fair trial,” Rawski added. “This is an opportunity for Nepal to illustrate the political will exists to address past human rights violations, and that the country’s judiciary can provide justice for the victims while protecting the rights of the defendants.”

Dekendra Thapa was allegedly tortured and buried alive by Maoist cadres in 2004 during the country’s decade-long civil war, which ended in 2006.

The case was finally submitted to a District Court yesterday (January 28, 2013) by the District Attorney of Dailekh in Mid-Western Nepal. The Dailekh District Attorney has charged nine people alleged to be involved.

Five of the suspects have been arrested and produced before the district court.

“Dekendra Thapa was one of the thousands of civilians whose deaths have gone without proper explanation or justice,” said Rawski. “Thanks to the courageous decision of the local authorities to proceed with this case, there is now an opportunity for the Nepali justice system to begin answering the demands for justice.”

In Kathmandu, Frederick Rawski, ICJ Nepal Country Representative : t +977-984-959-7681
In Bangkok, Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia Director: t +66-807-819-002

Photo credit: Dhurba Basnet

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