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UN shocked by use of force against demo supporters

Written by: Staff
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Kathmandu, Apr 14: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed shock over ''the excessive use'' of force by security agencies in Nepal, as well as the extensive use of arbitrary detention in violation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

''In expressing his concern about the developing confrontation a week ago, Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that virtually all avenues for peaceful protest in Nepal seem to have been closing,'' High Commissioner Arbour said in a statement issued yesterday.

''Now violence has mounted despite the efforts of my office in Nepal to urge restraint on both demonstrators and security forces,'' she added.

Ms Arbour said her office (OHCHR) in Nepal witnessed the most ''excessive use of force to date'' against demonstrators in Kathmandu by the Armed Police Force and the Nepal Police, and the toll of serious injuries added to three fatal shootings around the country has risen alarmingly.

''I remind the Government of its international obligation to respect the right of peaceful assembly, and I remind its security forces of their obligation to use only minimum necessary force even when faced with demonstrators throwing rocks and other projectiles,'' Ms Arbour said.

Stating that Nepal's Police and Armed Police Force have helped the United Nations uphold the rule of law in its peace operations, the OHCHR chief said ''but I must make clear that my commitment to provide the Department of Peacekeeping Operations with information regarding individuals implicated in human rights violations extends to them as much as it does to the Royal Nepalese Army.

Nepal's security forces have been condemned by political parties, civil society, human rights organisations for gross violations of human rights during demonstrations against King Gyanendra, who seized power in February last year.

UNI

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