GENEVA – Nepal violated the human rights of a 16-year-old girl who was tortured, raped and shot dead by army officers during the Nepalese Civil War, the UN Human Rights Committee has found.
The Committee issued its findings today after considering a complaint filed by the victim’s parents, who found their daughter’s body in a cornfield in their village in 2004. Despite their efforts over the years, they have not been able to bring those responsible to justice through the legal system in Nepal.
“The gravity of this case has not faded with time even though 18 years have passed,” said Committee member Hélène Tigroudja. “This is a particularly severe case in which a child was summarily executed. It also underscores the pattern of abuse and rape of girls during the civil war, the lack of investigation and de facto impunity,” she added.
During the Nepalese Civil War in February 2004, R.R., the victim, was a secondary school student who lived with her family in the village of Pokhari Chauri in Kavre District, an area where many Maoists gathered to celebrate the eighth anniversary of the start of the “People’s War”. On the night of 13 February, around 20 uniformed, armed soldiers of the Royal Nepalese Army stormed into the family’s home, accusing R.R. of being a Maoist.
Although R.R. had attended the compulsory Maoist Student Union at school, she was not involved in any other Maoist activity. She denied the soldiers’ accusation, but was taken outside of the house, interrogated, hit with a rifle butt, thrown against a wall and taken to a cornfield. A soldier was heard telling another soldier to kill R.R. Three gunshots were then fired.
R.R.’s body was discovered the next morning, with her salwar (trousers) pulled down to the mid-thigh. Her blouse had been lifted up to her neck, and there were scratches on her breasts. She was shot in the eye, the head and the chest. The army killed two more people in the village that night.
Following the complaints by her family, the National Human Rights Commission in 2005 found that R.R. was killed by security forces. The Supreme Court in 2009 endorsed the Commission’s findings and ordered a prompt investigation. Nevertheless, no one has been held criminally accountable for the violations inflicted on R.R. The main suspect was acquitted in 2013 due to lack of evidence.
After exhausting all national remedies, R.R.’s parents brought the case to the Human Rights Committee.
The Committee found that Nepal was responsible for the direct and arbitrary deprivation of R.R.’s right to life and for subjecting her to physical and mental torture, including rape. The Commission also found that R.R.’s rights not to be subjected to gender discrimination and to be protected as a child had been violated. The Committee criticised the lack of an effective remedy for R.R.’s parents.
“Nepal has failed to demonstrate how a 16-year-old unarmed girl posed any threat to a squad of twenty fully armed soldiers, much less justify how her rape and summary execution could serve any legitimate security aim” said Tigroudja.
“Such egregious crimes shall in all instances be timely and thoroughly investigated and their perpetrators, whoever they are, brought to justice and punished”, she added.
The Committee urged Nepal to conduct a thorough and effective investigation into R.R.’s arbitrary detention, torture, including rape, and extrajudicial execution, and to hold those responsible accountable. It also reiterated its call to Nepal to align its statute of limitations for the crime of rape with international standards, as well as to impose sanctions and remedies for torture that are proportionate to the gravity of such crimes.
The Human Rights Committee monitors States parties’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which to date has been ratified by 173 States parties. The Committee is made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights allows individuals to file complaints against the 117 States parties to the Optional Protocol for violations of their rights enshrined in the Covenant. The Optional Protocol imposes on States parties the international legal obligation to comply in good faith with the Committee’s views. More information on the Complaints Procedures is available online.