8 Disappearances in Manau Village (Bardiya District) Nepal

On the night of 11 April 2002, eight youngsters - Dhaniram Tharu, Soniram Tharu, Radhulal Tharu, Prem Prakash Tharu, Kamala Tharu, Mohan Tharu, Lauti Tharu and Chillu Tharu - all of Tharu ethnicity, disappeared from their homes in Nauranga village, Ward No.8, Manau Village Development Committee (VDC), Bardiya District, Nepal. They were aged between 14 and 23; two among them were girls; and five of them were thought to be below 18 years old.

The disappearances were allegedly committed by a group of 60-70 soldiers who came to the village, with groups of two to five soldiers breaking into the targeted houses between midnight and 2am, carrying torches and weapons. In each house they asked for the disappeared person by name, sometimes even seeming to know the location of that person’s bed.

No news of the eight youths was received by the families for years despite repeated searches in all the army camps and police stations in a 50 kilometer radius and visits to the authorities. In 2006 the army informed a government Committee, the ICRC and OHCHR-Nepal that seven of the young people were killed in crossfire during an encounter with Maoists in the Manau nursery jungle, but did not provide details as to what happened to the bodies. The families refuted the army’s allegations. They say that as the young people left their houses unarmed and under the control of a large group of soldiers they could not have engaged in an armed encounter later that same night. Furthermore, the villagers would have heard had been gunshots in the nursery.

Non-governmental organisation Advocacy Forum Nepal assisted the families of the victims to file habeas corpus petitions in the Supreme Court in 2003. All of the respondents denied detaining the eight young persons. In decisions reached between 24 August 2004 and 25 March 2005, the Supreme Court quashed all of the petitions on the grounds that the authors could not identify where and by whom each young person was being detained.

Having exhausted all available and effective domestic remedies as well as administrative remedies, the families of those disappeared submitted a communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on 24 January 2011, represented by Advocacy Forum Nepal and REDRESS.  The government filed comments on the submission, contesting both the admissibility of the communication and the substance of the claims, to which the Authors responded in April 2012. 

In July 2014, following the adoption of an act to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Nepal, the author provided a further update to the Committee, enclosing an analysis of the Act by Advocacy Forum, REDRESS and TRIAL, an OHCHR analysis of the Act, and a statement by UN special procedures mandate holders calling for amendment of the Act.

The Human Rights Committee decided the case in July 2015.  It found the eight young people were victims of enforced disappearance, resulting in violations of their rights to life, to be free from torture, to liberty and to personality before the law. It found further that the anguish and stress caused to the families of the victims amounted to a serious violation of their human rights.

 


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