Ongoing harassment and death threats against Mr. Jitman Basnet - NPL 001 / 0507 / OBS 056.1

22/08/2007
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of ongoing harassment and death threats against Mr. Jitman Basnet, a lawyer, journalist and Secretary General of the Lawyer’s Forum for Human Rights (LAFHUR), in Babarmahal, Kathmandu.

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

New information:

According to information received, on August 7, 2007, an unknown female resumed threatening phone calls to Mr. Basnet, after an hiatus of approximately two months (See background information).

On August 11, 2007, Mr. Basnet was called again by a different individual who, in response to Mr. Basnet’s request that she identify herself, told him: “you are going to be killed, we will also kill your wife”.

Following these threatening phone calls, Mr. Basnet filed a complaint at Tinkune police station on August 13, 2007.

On August 18, 2007, a caller identifying himself as Khadga Mahato, and then subsequently as Mahat, contacted Mr. Basnet. While no threat was made on this occasion, the caller said that he was named in “Mr. Basnet’s book” (See background information).

The Observatory deplores the ongoing intimidation of Mr. Basnet, which appears to be entirely motivated by his human rights activities. The Observatory wishes to point out that even though the situation of human rights defenders in Nepal has improved recently, this case of intimidation may announce further attacks on human rights defenders in the country.

Background information:

On February 4, 2004, Mr. Basnet was arrested by members of the Bhairabnath Army Battalion, Kathmandu, and then arbitrarily detained incommunicado for 258 days and tortured1. After his release, Mr. Basnet was repeatedly harassed by members of the army and, as a result, finally left Kathmandu. He spent some 17 months in India before returning to Nepal.

On August 27, 2006, Mr. Basnet filed a writ of mandamus before the Supreme Court, demanding that a High Level Committee be formed to investigate into human rights violations that took place during the recent conflicts in Nepal, as well as into the cases of disappearances that the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights-Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) submitted to the government in May 2005. He also accused King Gyanendra and army officials for supplying false information to the Supreme Court. King Gyanendra is cited in these cases as he was the Chief of the Royal Nepal Army and therefore bears command responsibility. His request is due to be heard on October 5, 2007.

In March 2007, Mr. Basnet published a book entitled 258 Dark Days relating to his prolonged custody in Bhairabnath Battalion’s facilities. The book also covers the stories of many other detainees who were tortured, raped, killed and/or disappeared at the hands of the Bhairabnath Barracks’ personnel, giving an insight into Nepal’s turbulent and bloody recent past, concerning which impunity still prevails.

On May 21, 2007, Mr. Basnet had already received an anonymous call from a public telephone booth in Swayambhu, Kathmandu, in which he was threatened to “bear the results” of his engagement in the struggle against impunity in Nepal.

Actions required:

Please write to the Nepalese authorities urging them to:

i.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Jitman Basnet;

ii.Conduct a fair, impartial and independent inquiry into the above-mentioned events in order to bring the authors to justice and apply them a sentence which is proportional to the gravity of their crimes;

iii.Put an end to all acts of harassment and threats against Mr. Jitman Basnet as well as against all human rights defenders in the country;

iv.Conform with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1 that states, “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and article 12(2) that states, “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and 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.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Nepal.

Addresses :

- His Majesty King Gyanendra, Narayanhity Royal Palace, Durbar Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal, c/o Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Nepal to the United Nations, 81 rue de la Servette, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +4122 733 27 22; E-mail: mission.nepal@ties.itu.int
- Mr.. Girija Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister, Singh Durbar, Kathmandu, E-mail : info @opm.gov.np
- Mr.. Nayan Bahadur Khatri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Pulchowck, Lalitpur, Nepal; E-mail: nhrc@ntc.net.np
Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Government of Nepal, Ministry of Home Affairs, Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel: +977 1 4211211 / 4211229, 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.. Yagya Murti Banjade, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Ramshahpath, Kathmandu, Nepal, Fax : +97714262582, Email : attorney@mos.com.np
- Mr.. Shaha Bir Thapa, Inspector General of the Armed Police Force, Armed Police Headquarters, Swayam, Nepal, Fax: + 977 1 4 275 685, E-mail: armedpolice@wlink.com.np
- IGP Om Bikram Rana, Chief, Nepal Police Head Quarter, Naxal, Kathmandu, Nepal, PO. Box No.: 407, Tel: +977 1 4 412 737 / +977 1 4 412 732, Fax: +977 1 4 415 593. Email : phqigs@nepalpolice.com.np
- SP Nava Raj Silwal, HR Cell, Nepal Police Head Quarter, Naxal, Kathmandu, Nepal PO. Box. No.: 407, Tel: +977 1 4 411 618 Fax : 9771415593 E-mail: hrcell@nepalpolice.gov.np
- Ambassador Thata Yarayan, 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 country.

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Geneva - Paris, August 22, 2007

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code 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: Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80 Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

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