Nepal : ICJ calls for immediate release of lawyers and lifting of ban on public gatherings

The ICJ today called for the immediate release of 14 arbitrarily detained lawyers and the lifting of the blanket ban on public gatherings in Kathmandu centre and Lalitpur.

“The ban on public gatherings and today’s mass arrests are all attempts by the government to silence peaceful and legitimate protest, which is needed now more than ever in Nepal,” said Nicholas Howen, Secretary-General of the ICJ. “If peaceful political debate is prohibited, there will never be an end to Nepal’s 10-year civil war.”

While Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) allows for justifiable restrictions to be placed on the right to freedom of assembly, it is the ICJ’s opinion that the grounds for the current blanket ban on public gatherings is neither proportionate or justifiable under Nepal’s international human rights obligations.

The lawyers, who were arrested along with at least 24 journalists and teachers, have been detained without being informed of the charges against them. They are currently being held in Ward No. 10 Police Office Baneshwar, Kathmandu. The journalists have reportedly been moved to Mahendra Police Office, Kathmandu. One lawyer, Damodar Khadka, was detained early this morning when security officials entered his house without a warrant for the entry or his arrest. He is currently held with the 13 other lawyers who were detained this morning as they prepared for a demonstration at New Baneshwor, Kathmandu.

“There are no grounds on which to charge the lawyers and others arrested today. They should be immediately released,” said Nicholas Howen.

The detained lawyers are:

Shambhu Thapa, NBA President
Sher Bahadur KC, NBA Vice-President
Madhav Banskota, NBA General Secretary
Ishwari Bhattarai, President, NBA Court of Appeal Patan Unit
Yogendra Adhikari, President, NBA Kathmandu District Court Unit
Hari Upreti
Ramesh Badal
Kamal Iteni
Basudev Acharya
Pravin Kharel
Nawraj Khatiwada
Bikal Prajapati
Hariram Suwal
Damodar Khadka, former Vice-President, NBA Supreme Court Unit


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