Nepal: UK Court to decide whether Colonel Kumar Lama will be tried for torture under universal jurisdiction

The ICJ has issued a briefing paper explaining the international legal issues and underlying political context of the case against Nepali Army officer Colonel Kumar Lama in a Question and Answer format.

The case against Nepali Army officer Colonel Kumar Lama, arrested in the United Kingdom on allegations that he was responsible for torture in Nepal, will come before the UK criminal court on 21 October 2013.

“This decision has far reaching implications, not only for the victims in this case but for all victims of torture around the world seeking justice,” said Sheila Varadan, ICJ Legal Advisor for South Asia.

Colonel Kumar Lama was arrested on the morning of Thursday, 3 January 2013 in the UK while he was on leave from his duties as a United Nations Peacekeeper in Sudan.

Exercising the principle of universal jurisdiction, Colonel Lama was charged with two counts of committing torture under Section 134(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 in the United Kingdom.

“This is the first time the UK courts are seriously considering the principle of universal jurisdiction since the Augusto Pinochet case,” Varadan added.

The charges are based on allegations that Colonel Lama participated in the torture of two Nepali detainees in 2005, at the height of Nepal’s decade-long internal armed conflict.

“The case comes at a time when ongoing impunity is causing serious political instability in Nepal and calls for transitional justice mechanism continue to go unheard,” Varadan said.


Sheila Varadan, ICJ South Asia Legal Adviser (Bangkok), t: +66 857 200 723 (mobile); email: sheila.varadan(a)

Ben Schonveld, ICJ South Asia Director (Kathmandu), t: +9779804596661 (mobile); email: ben.schonveld(a)

Nepal-LAMA Case Q & A -advocacy-analysis brief-2013 (full text in pdf)

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