Dev Bahadur Maharjan v. Nepal
Dev Bahadur Maharjan was dragged from his house in the middle of the night on 26 November 2003 by members of the Nepal Army. He was illegally detained at the Chhauni military barracks from the time of his arrest until 17 September 2004, when he was transferred to an official detention facility. He was not able to contact his family, friends, or consult with a lawyer during this time, and his family did not know where he was beng held.
While Mr Maharjan was detained in the military barracks, he was subject to torture and ill-treatment. Soldiers severely beat him during interrogation for four consecutive nights, and would randomly beat him and other detainees throughout his detention. Mr Maharjan suffered injuries from these beatings, but was not provided with medical treatment. On the last night of his interrogation Mr Maharjan was taken outside the barracks, and saw the soldiers kill a person at the perimeter fence. Throughout the entire period of his detention at the military barracks he was kept blindfolded or made to wear a hood which allowed him to look downwards only. Once transferred to the official detention facility he was kept in overcrowded rooms infested with lice, was made to sleep on a blanket on the floor, and was allowed to wash only three times during the period of his detention there.
Mr Maharjan was finally released from detention on 7 January 2005, after his sister filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. There has been no investigation by the state into Mr Maharjan’s enforced disappearance and torture, and Mr Maharjan has not been given any compensation for his illegal arrest and detention, or torture.
In 2008 Mr Maharjan took his case to the UN Human Rights Committee, represented by Advocacy Forum Nepal and supported by REDRESS. Mr Maharjan also alleged that his wife and parents were victims of human rights violations because of the anxiety and distress caused to them by his disappearance.
In July 2012 the Committee found Mr Maharjan and his family to be victims of violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, and called on Nepal to fulfil its obligation under the Covenant to provide them with an effective remedy.
Specifically, the Committee has stated that Nepal must:
- ensure a thorough and diligent investigation into the torture and ill-treatment suffered by Mr Maharjan;
- prosecute and punish those responsible;
- provide Mr Maharjan and his family with adequate compensation for all of the violations they have suffered; and
- amend its legislation to bring it in line with its obligations under the Covenant, including by amending a limitation period barring civil claims for torture, enacting a law criminalising and defining torture, and repealing all laws granting impunity to alleged perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment.
Photo credit: Fiona Lloyd-Davies