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UN's Nepal envoy cites flagrant rights violations

Written by: Staff
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PARIS, Apr 19 (Reuters) The UN human rights envoy to Nepal said there had been flagrant rights violations by Maoist guerrillas and Royal Nepal Army forces since the leftists ended a unilateral ceasefire in January.

Ian Martin told Le Figaro newspaper in an interview published today that the democratic situation had deteriorated sharply but said it was too early to talk of imposing sanctions.

King Gyanendra sacked the government and assumed full powers in February 2005, vowing to crush a decade-old Maoist revolt in which more than 13,000 people have died.

''There have been flagrant breaches of human rights over the last few months,'' Martin, representative of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, told the paper.

''The Maoists have often moved the conflict into urban zones, inevitably leading to civilian casualties. For its part, the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) has continued its bombardments from helicopters, sometimes of populated zones.

''Such behaviour means you cannot distinguish between military and civilian targets, which is contrary to international law,'' he told the paper.

Hundreds of people have been wounded or arrested in a two-week campaign to force the king to restore multi-party democracy. The monarch has offered elections by April next year, but activists demand an all-party government now.

Martin criticised the government for banning all demonstrations and said police had beaten demonstrators, including children.

More than a third of the 3,000 people detained in the past 12 days were still in temporary prisons, prisons were overcrowded, food and water supplies insufficient and sanitary and medical conditions poor, he added.

Asked about sanctions, Martin said it was too early to take the Nepal case to the UN Security Council.

REUTERS SI HS1450

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