Nepal: three more lawyers abducted by security forces

As the human rights situation continues to deteriorate, the ICJ called on the Government to order the immediate release of three lawyers who were abducted by security forces.

Three Nepalese lawyers who have been arbitrarily arrested and detained by alleged members of the security forces should be immediately released, said the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

Mr. Basudev Sigdel, a lawyer from Kathmandu, was arrested on 22 January by three men in civilian dress claiming to be members of the security forces. The men took Mr. Sigdel from his law office on foot and said that they would return him to the office very soon. All attempts by his family to contact him on his mobile telephone have failed.

Mr. Sigdel’s family has reported his arrest to the National Human Rights Commission and the Nepal Bar Association. They have also appealed unsuccessfully to the Defense Ministry and the Home Ministry to find out where he is and ensure that he is safe. A writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Mr. Sigdel was presented to the Supreme Court, and the Court is still waiting for a reply from the Government and the Army.

Mr. Gopi Bahadur Bhandari, another lawyer from Kathmandu, was arrested by five men in civilian dress on 15 January and taken to an undisclosed location. His whereabouts remain unknown.

The third lawyer arrested by the security forces is Mr. Krishna Silwal, an Advocate and Officer at the Legal Section of the Central Bank. He is reportedly in detention at an Army barracks.

“The human rights situation in Nepal has deteriorated to the point where lawyers cannot carry out their work without fear of being whisked off by security forces”, said Linda Besharaty-Movaed, Legal Adviser at the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. “The arrest and enforced disappearance of these lawyers adds to the substantial number of individuals who have been abducted by the security forces, in particular, since the collapse of the ceasefire last August”.

In the last three months, the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers called for the release of two other Nepalese lawyers and for an immediate end to all arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances.

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