10/20/2004, 00.00
NEPAL
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Despite the disappearance of hundreds of people authorities do nothing

The Asian Human Rights Commission reports 1,430 people disappeared but the total figure could be several times higher.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of people including children have been forcibly taken in Nepal but the authorities have taken no action to stop it and perpetrators are still walking free, this according to a report by Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The AHRC warns that if nothing is done soon, the country could have one of the worst cases of massive disappearance in human history. According to the human rights organisation, the problem is especially critical in the villages and towns outside the capital, Kathmandu.

The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal has documented at least 1,430 cases of disappearance but the actual number could be several times higher.

In its report the AHRC complained about the world's lack of interest. "The international community's lack of will and absence contributed to an atmosphere in which humanitarian norms were grossly violated," the group said adding that "urgent action is of the utmost importance if this uncontrolled loss of human life it to come to an end, especially action by the United Nations and its agencies".

The Royal Nepal Army (RNA) and anti-government Maoist insurgents, which are entangled in a military conflict, are thought to be responsible for the disappearances in Nepal. In most reported cases, the RNA seems to be involved; however, victims' families are too afraid to lodge any complaint because the authorities have failed to help investigating even those disappearances that were reported.

According to the AHRC, "the police fail to register the cases, the courts fail to intervene, and the authorities give a closed door approach to the cases brought before them. This is a sign that the law is not being enforced in this country."

Both the RNA and Maoist guerrillas have repeatedly threatened the families of the disappeared and their supporters, including human rights activists.

As a protest, families of 125 victims went on a hunger strike in Kathmandu's Ratna Park but were forcibly stopped by the police.

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