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UN presses Nepal rebels on human rights abuses

Written by: Staff

Kathmandu, Sep 12: The United Nations has urged Nepal's Maoist rebels to fulfil their commitment to human rights, saying it was concerned over cases of killings, torture, ill-treatment and abductions by the guerrillas.

''By fulfilling the commitments of its leadership to respect human rights, cadres of the CPN-Maoist can both make an immediate improvement to the human rights situation in Nepal,'' a UN official said, referring to the rebel Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), in a statement released late yesterday.

''A climate of respect for human rights is needed now, more than ever, in order to allow the peace process to move forward,'' said David Johnson, officer-in-charge at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights-Nepal.

Nepali rebels, fighting since 1996 to topple the monarchy and set up a communist state, agreed to a ceasefire with the government after violent street protests forced King Gyanendra to cede absolute powers and restore democracy in April.

Both sides have since resumed peace talks that collapsed in 2003.

Ordinary people have the right to be free of the threat of intimidation, extortion or physical violence in any form and people displaced due to the conflict must be able to return to their homes and land without hindrances, Johnson said.

''Children must not be recruited into or involved in armed groups of any kind, including militias, and they must not be intimidated into joining political activities,'' he said.

Killings by Maoists in some areas have eased after the UN recently discussed the issue with the guerrillas but serious abuses remain, he said.

The issue of accountability remains yet to be addressed in most cases and the UN was investigating five killings attributed to the rebels, he said. Maoists deny charges of systematic abuses.

Separately, the state-funded National Human Rights Commission asked the Maoists to provide information about 152 people whose fate remained unknown after being captured.

More than 13,000 people have died in the conflict in the tourism and aid-dependent Himalayan nation.


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