Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Summary executions and the use of torture in prisons in the region of the Terai (southern Nepal) a hotbed of ethnic conflict, are on the increase. The Human Rights organization Advocacy Forum (AF) in a 93-page report released yesterday documents the repeated violence - murders, rapes, kidnappings, torture – carried out between January and September 2009 by police and armed forces against ethnic minorities in the region.
The Af report entitled "Torture and extrajudicial executions amid widespread violence in the Tarai" refers to a total of 15 executions that remained unpunished. According to the organization, the Nepal Police (NP) is responsible for 13 killings, while two were committed by members of the Armed Police Force (AF). The dead belong mostly to political groups linked to the Madeshi community, the ethic minority in the region that is fighting for autonomy. Witnesses said the victims were arrested during clashes between police and Madeshi members and killed on the spot by the officials.
"Once again we see how the Nepalese government has failed to conduct credible investigations and prosecute those responsible for these crimes," said Mandira Sharma, director of AF. "Impunity – she adds - shows the lack of an adequate security system. All this only adds to the resentment of ethnic groups towards the central government in Kathmandu.
The document is also a survey based on interviews with 1473 inmates. This shows the prevalence of torture in prisons in 11 districts: Banke, Barda, Dhanusha, Jhapa, Kanchapur, Kapilvastu, Morang, Siraha, Sunsari, Rupandehi and Udayapur. In the prison in the district of Dhanusha more than 30% of respondents admitted to having been tortured. In particular, women complained of continuous sexual abuse by the guards. Torture also cover 52% of children, in some cases as young as 9 years old. Mainly the ethnic and religious minorities are subjected to torture. Prisoners belonging to the Terai ethnic groups or Muslims are the most affected, while Hindus are given a better treatment.
In July 2009 the Nepalese government launched a special security plan to limit police violence, particularly in the region of Terai. Nevertheless it has not yet been implemented and no measure has been taken against the policemen responsible for violence.
"Until the law is applied and there is more investigations of these facts - says Mandira Sharma - the police will continue to use electric shock treatment in prisons, to carryout extrajudicial executions and use violence against detainees, including children, without having to account anyone.