Assassination of Ms. Laxmi Bohara - NPL 002 / 0608 / OBS 102

16/06/2008
Appel urgent

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the assassination of Ms. Laxmi Bohara, 28 years old, a health volunteer and an active women’s rights activist engaged in advocating for health rights of women, Secretary of the Women’s Empowerment Centre and a member of the Women Human Rights Defender Network in Kanchanpur, after being beaten and physically injured by her husband and mother in law.

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 June 6, 2008, Ms. Laxmi Bohara was severely beaten and then forced to take poison, before being rushed to the hospital by her husband, Mr. Tek Raj Bohara. She passed away while being treated at the hospital. Blue marks and severe bruises were present all over her body. After the news of her death, Ms. Bohara’s husband fled from the hospital.

In the past, Ms. Bohara had been severely criticised and harassed by her husband and mother in law for committing herself to social work, suspicious if she talked with anyone on the road, having been submitted to sexual baiting, and regularly beaten up by her husband who even threatened to throw her out of the house. Thus, ten days before her death, Ms. Bohara had been thrown out of the house by her husband, before going back to her husband after he promise he would not beat her up again.

Ms. Laxmi Bohara’s father subsequently submitted a First Hand Information (FIR) to the District Police Office (DPO), accusing his daughter’s husband and mother-in-law to have murdered her. The police informed him that his case was registered under number 224. However, it was later found out that the FIR registered by Ms. Bohara’s father was actually not in his name but was registered by Mr. Tek Raj Bohra’s family.

Furthermore, as a part of the Hindu culture, the dead has to be cremated by a man of the family and follow 13 days of mourning period. Since the religion demands that a "man" has to follow such "holy" procedures, the police informed the family members that the FIR had to be registered after 13 days in order to enable the husband to perform the "ritual". Hence the husband was freed after having signed an agreement paper according to which he would present himself at the police station after 13 days. Ms. Bohara’s body was then cremated.

The post mortem examination of Ms. Bohara’s body was conducted by Dr. Khagendra Bhatta, a cousin of Mr. Tek Raj Bohara, who submitted a report that clearly states that Ms. Bohara died of poison and there were presence of minor bruises.

Furthermore, when members of the Women Human Rights Defender Network in Kanchanpur went to meet with Mr. Kisan Chand, District Superintendent of Police (DSP), the latter was aggressive and he said that he was not scared of anyone and "even if the women’s movement took their protest to the streets, it would not make any difference to anyone". Since, such threats and harassment have become common against members of the Women Human Rights Defender Network in Kanchanpur. On June 7, 2008, Mr. Kisan Chand even ordered his sub-officers to throw the women out of his office.

On June 10 and 11, 2008, Ms. Laxmi Bohara’s father went to the police station to register the FIR, but he was told that without any legal and strong evidence, the FIR could not be registered.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern regarding Ms. Laxmi Bohara’s assassination, and urges the Nepalese authorities to order a thorough and impartial investigation into her assassination 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.

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 all members of the Women Human Rights Defenders Network in Kanchanpur, as well as of all defenders in Nepal ;

ii. Order a thorough and impartial investigation into Ms. Laxmi Bohara’s assassination 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. Guarantee that adequate reparation is provided to Ms. Laxmi Bohara’s family ;

iv. Put an end to any act of harassment against all human rights defenders in Nepal ;

v. 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" ;

vi. 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 :

- Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister’s office, Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal. Fax : + 977 1-4428220
- 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. Ram Chandra Poudel, Minister for Peace and Rehabilitation, Peace Secretariat, Singh Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal. Fax : +977 1 4211186 and 4211173. E-mail : info@peace.gov.np
- Ms. Pampa Bhusal, Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare, Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal. Fax : 977-1-4241516, E-mail : mowcsw@ntc.net.np
- Ms. Nainkala Thapa, Chairperson, National Women’s Commission, Bhadrakali Plaza, Kathmandu, Nepal, Fax : 977-1-4256783, E-mail : nwc@htp.com.np
- 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
- National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) - Nepal, Far-Western Regional Office, Dhangadi, Uttar Behadi, Ratopul, Dhangadi, Kailali, Nepal. Tel : 091-525621,525622. Fax : 00977-91-525623. E-mail : nhrcdhn@nhrcnepal.org
- 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, June 16, 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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