Acts of harassment against Mr. Sushil Ku - NPL 001 / 0508 / OBS 080

15/05/2008
Press release

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about death threats as well as a police search of the house of Mr. Sushil Kumar Lakhe, human rights lawyer and Regional Coordinator of the regional office of Advocacy Forum in Nepalgunj.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Nepal.

Brief description of the situation:

According to the information received, on May 11, 2008, about 10 policemen in uniform, including police head constable Mr. Nar Bahadur Baigaar and police constable Dubar Yadav, went to the home of Mr. Sushil Kumar Lakhe, located at Nepalgunj Municipality ward no. 6, Fultekra, Banke district, at about 6:20 pm and searched his home without a search warrant. While Mr. Sushil Lakhe was away during the search, his son who was at home asked the police the reason of this house search but they did not reply. The policemen also opened drawer of his study table and looked through all
the documents. After about five minutes, they left his home, and arrested five persons who had come to his home to visit him for personnel matters. However, the visitors were released after a while without being taken to the police station.

Immediately after the incident, Mr. Sushil Kumar Lakhe called Superintendent of police Mr. Ghanashyam Bhatta of District Police Office, Banke district, and Sub-inspector of police Mr. Govinda Rokka of temporary Police Post Fultekra and asked them for the reason of his house search. However, both policemen replied that no police had been deployed there at his home.

Furthermore, on May 2, 2008, at 9.40 pm, Mr. Sushil Kumar Lakhe had been followed by two unidentified people while he was returning home on his motorbike. At one point, they said: "this man says himself as a human rights defender and we have to finish him". Mr. Kumar Lakhe then managed to speed up and escape his followers. On the same day afternoon, Mr. Kumar Lakhe had accompanied to the District Police Office of Banke a family member of Mr. Kamal Dahal, who was reportedly murdered by the army personnel of Bhimkali Gulm, Banke district, on January 1, 2002. They had gone to the police station to file a first information report against army Major Mr. Ajit Thapa and Captain Ramesh Swar of Bhimkali Gulm of Banke district. However the FIR was denied. On May 4, 2008, the FIR was registered at the Kohalpur Area Police Station, Kohalpur, Banke district.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern regarding these acts of harassment against Mr. Sushil Kumar Lakhe, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his activities in favour of human rights.

Action requested:

Please write to the Nepalese authorities and ask them to:

i. Take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Sushil Kumar Lakhe;

ii. Order a thorough and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned events in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to any act of harassment against Mr. Sushil Kumar Lakhe as well as against all human rights defenders in Nepal;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", as well as Article 12.2, which provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

v. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Nepal.

Addresses:

- Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Government of Nepal, Ministry of Home Affairs, Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel: +977 1 4211211 / 4211264, Fax: 97714211232 Email: moha@wlink.com.np

- Mr. Baman Prasad Neupane, HR Cell, Government of Nepal Ministry of Home Affairs, Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel: + 977 1 4 211 205/ 97714211206 Fax: +977 1 4211266

- Mr. Kedar Nath Uppadhya, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Pulchowck, Lalitpur, Nepal; Email: nhrc@nhrcnepal.org and also complaints@nhrcnepal.org, Fax: +977 1 5547973

- Permanent Mission of Nepal, 81 rue de la Servette, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +4122 7332722, E-mail: mission.nepal@ties.itu.int

- Embassy of Nepal in Brussels, Brugmannlaan 210, 1180 Brussels, Tel: +32 2 346 26 58 / 2 346 66 38, Fax: +32 2 344 13 61, E-mail: rne.bru@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Nepal in your respective countries.

***

Geneva - Paris, May 15, 2008

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

Tel and fax: FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 (0) 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT : + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 (0) 22 809 49 29

Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org

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