Nepal: second arrest and disappearance of lawyer in two weeks

The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers today condemned the arrest and disappearance of Nepalese lawyer Gopi Krishna Thapaliya, and called for his immediate release.

Mr. Thapaliya was arrested by security forces at 6:30 am on 4 November at his home in Koteshwar, Kathmandu. The security personnel, who were in plain clothes, refused to let the lawyer’s family know where they were taking him. The whereabouts of Mr. Thapaliya, as well as the charges against him, remain unknown. All attempts by the lawyer’s family to locate him, including contacting the National Human Rights Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross, have failed.

The apparent reason for Mr. Thapaliya’s arrest is his membership in the Rastriya Janamorcha Nepal (People’s Front of Nepal) political party.

“The human rights situation in Nepal is extremely worrying”, said Linda Besharaty-Movaed, Legal Adviser at the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. “Mr. Thapaliya’s arrest and enforced disappearance adds to the list of lawyers abducted by the security forces”.

Mr. Thapaliya’s disappearance is the second disappearance of a lawyer in the last two weeks. Shyam Kumar Shrestha, a member of the Nepal Bar Association, was arrested by security forces on 23 October at his home in Bagbazar, Kathmandu. The security forces stated that they were taking Mr. Shrestha for questioning. His whereabouts remain unknown.

In July 2003, the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers released the report of its fact-finding mission which had taken place in January 2003. The report denounced the army killings and the increase in the number of disappearances by the security forces and abductions by the Maoists since fighting between the two sides resumed in August.

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