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Govt blocks promotion of alleged abuser

Rights groups hail rejection of senior army appointment

  • Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu
  • Nepal
  • July 25, 2012
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The government yesterday rejected the promotion of a senior army officer linked to human rights abuses during Nepal’s civil war following weeks of pressure by campaign groups.

The army had put Colonel Raju Basnet forward for promotion to the rank of brigadier-general but yesterday the cabinet in Kathmandu returned the recommendation to the Ministry of Defense without being approved, Nepal-based rights groups said.

“This is a very good sign,” said Swagat Nepal, secretary of Freedom for All, a Nepalese human rights group. “[This is] a rare and symbolic victory for thousands of victims of the 10-year-old conflict in our country in which freedom from punishment has been the unspoken rule for perpetrators.”

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and a host of other rights groups have accused Col Basnet of direct responsibility for torture and forced disappearances as commander of the Bhairabnath Battalion in Kathmandu during the civil war against the Maoists from 1996 to 2006.

“The allegations against Colonel Basnet, his superiors, and those under his command in 2003 are very serious and backed by substantial and consistent evidence reported by the UN and Nepal’s own national human rights commission,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Sunday before Col Basnet’s promotion was rejected.

Rights groups say that instead of promoting those implicated in rights abuses, the government should initiate an investigation into allegations against the Nepalese army and the Maoists during the civil war.

In June 2007, the Supreme Court ordered an independent investigation into crimes committed during the conflict but so far no action has been taken.

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