Sharma v. Nepal

Surya Prasad Sharma disappeared after he was arrested by the army in January 2002 from his home in Baglung district, Nepal. His wife followed the soldiers and saw them lead her husband into the Kalidal Gulm army barracks. She was later visited by a soldier who told her that her husband was being severely tortured.

In response to a habeas corpus petition filed in the Supreme Court in February 2003, all government authorities denied his arrest and detention. However, the Baglung Chief District Officer (CDO) informed the court that Mr. Sharma had tried to escape jumping in the river and drowned. A government committee set up to investigate disappearances provided the same information. In February 2005, the Supreme Court quashed the petition believing the CDO’s response.

In April 2006, Mrs. Sharma, represented by Nepali non-governmental organisation Advocacy Forum Nepal, submitted a communication to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

In October 2008, in its first ever case from Nepal considered under the Optional Protocol, the HRC found violations of Article 2(3) (the right to an effective remedy), Article 7 (the right not to be tortured), 9 (the right to liberty and security of person) and 10 (respect for the inherent dignity of a human person) of the ICCPR. It directed the government to thoroughly investigate the incommunicado detention and subsequent disappearance of Surya Prasad Sharma, to release him immediately if he is still alive, to provide adequate information resulting from its investigation, and adequate compensation for his wife and her family.

The decision further affirms the state’s obligation to “not only conduct thorough investigations into alleged violations of human rights, particularly disappearances and acts of torture, but also to prosecute, try and punish those held responsible for such violations.”

REDRESS has been working with Advocacy Forum Nepal to try to ensure that the decision of the HRC in this case is implemented, by making representations to the Government and to the Human Rights Committee.

Following the handing down of the HRC's decision, Mrs. Sharma received a small amount of money from the government, which it termed "interim relief".  The amount provided is however in no way commensurate with the gravity of the violations suffered, or the damage caused.   Furthermore, to date no action has been taken to investigate Mr Sharma's disappearance, and the transitional justice mechanisms promised by the Government have not been put in place. 

Advocacy Forum and REDRESS continue to liaise regularly with the Government of Nepal and the Human Rights Committee to push for full implementation of the Views in the case, and the Committee has continued to raise this with the State party. The organisations also continue to advocate at the national and international levels for transitional justice mechanisms which respect the rights of victims of serious human rights violations, and ensure accountability.

In addition to numerous individual submissions on implementation, on February 2014 the organisations provided a detailed report to the Human Rights Committee on Nepal's failure to implement views in a number of cases.  In July 2014, following the adoption of an act to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Nepal, the organisations 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.

 

 To find out more about REDRESS' work in Nepal, please click here.


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