Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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Interview with Rajesh Hamal

Nepal ( Rajesh Hamal interview)

I am working as an advocate. In the past, I have worked for a human rights organization.

How is torture practiced in Nepal?

Generally, torture is used to get information and confessions from suspects. I have worked for advocacy groups in the past and we tried to monitor detention centers in many places. There is no investigation system in our country. The police don’t have access to proper equipment so they rely on torture. The government doesn’t provide the necessary training for the police and those involved in national security.
In some cases, people have been beaten in public. The media has recorded these cases. Generally, human rights organizations and media - if they find hear of torture case – can publicize these cases widely.

How does a human rights organization help the public?

There is a human rights organization which publishes annual reports;
they intervene in cases in which they find violations of human rights.
For example, some organizations monitor civil political rights violations. There is another organization which works on economic and social rights and other organizations work in advocacy and monitoring.

What are the challenges of working for human rights NGO in Nepal?

Most people are not aware of their rights, but some people are. Once I was giving training to the police, and they asked me how they can get information from people without beating them. To come out of these practices, people need to know have other options and strategies. They need to know what their rights and duties are. If they are aware of these things, they will be respectful. We need to educate people like that.

How do you educate the people?

I am working for Amnesty International’s organization. We train policemen and we train the public to be aware of their rights. We used to do different seminars for people, and we would also publish pamphlets.

Does the Nepali government allow you to publish these materials?

Yes, they allow us to create such publications. We have a good insurance of publication rights and media rights. In Nepal, nearly 50% of the people do not know how to read and write, so we use radio or television programs which can be more useful to them.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Nepal is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as the Convention against Torture (CAT.) The Convention requires all countries that have ratified it to criminalize torture. Nepal has an active law called the Compensation for Torture Act which was passed in 1996. However, this does not criminalize the act of torture. Instead, it provides victims with compensation. The compensation is given by the state but not by the police. The other thing is that the policeman who inflicts torture on a victim has to go through the legal system with a public prosecutor.

It becomes ridiculous, because the public prosecutor has to defend and prosecute the policeman. This doesn’t make sense. Public prosecutors can provide legal aid, but they should not have to fulfill so many roles.

Torture will not be removed unless it is treated like a crime. So first, we have to denounce torture and criminalize it. Secondly, the act which criminalizes torture should be properly implemented. Thirdly, the police should be trained in techniques of interrogation and investigation which do not involve violence. Also, the people should be aware of their rights. This is what is needed for torture to be removed from Nepal.


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