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ICJ urges Nepal government to cooperate with UK in torture investigation

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) [official website] on Tuesday called on [press release] the Nepal government to cooperate with an investigation into allegations leveled against Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama. Lama was arrested [JURIST report] in the UK last week and is charged with two counts of torture during Nepal's civil war in 2005. The charges stem from two separate incidences that allegedly occurred between April and May 2005 at the Gorusinghe Army Barracks in Nepal. Sam Zarifi, ICJ's Asia Director, welcomed the arrest of Lama:

The ICJ welcomes the steps taken by the UK to criminally investigate and bring to justice an individual suspected of the serious crime of torture. If the government wants to prevent the future prosecution of conflict-era human rights violations in foreign countries, then it must cooperate with the UK proceedings, and take immediate steps to investigate and prosecute similar violations domestically, in line with Nepal's own international obligations and the jurisprudence of Nepal's Supreme Court.
Nepal's deputy prime minister, Narayankaji Shrestha, denounced [Guardian report] the arrest and called for Lama's immediate release. However, as the ICJ pointed out, such a release would violate the UK's international obligations if a full investigation is not conducted first.

In October the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] released a report [text, PDF] urging justice for victims of international law violations [JURIST report] that occurred during Nepal's civil war, a conflict which resulted in approximately 13,000 deaths [JURIST report]. In April Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] and the ICJ urged Nepal to reject blanket amnesty [JURIST report] for crimes committed during the countries civil war. In the same month, Kyung-Wha Kang [official profile], the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned [JURIST report] Nepal for its reluctance to prosecute war crimes and for its lack of progress on women's rights. OHCHR and HRW [JURIST reports] have both appealed to the Nepalese government to investigate human rights violations committed during the civil war.

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