UN flays Nepal for appointing murder suspect as minister

UN censured Nepal over the appointment of another Maoist as minister.

Updated: May 05, 2011, 23:52 PM IST

Kathmandu: A day after Nepal`s Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal risked drawing wrath of his partymen, the opposition and rights groups by allocating the powerful home ministry to a Maoist leader in a major cabinet reshuffle, the first censure came from the UN over the appointment of another Maoist as minister.

Reacting to the appointment of Maoist legislator Agni Prasad Sapkota as the new information and communications minister, the United Nations Human Rights Office in Nepal issued a stiff statement Thursday, saying it was concerned.

"Sapkota is named as a suspect in a first information report registered by the police in 2008 regarding the alleged abduction and killing of Arjun Lama in 2005," the UN statement said.

"The police registered the FIR in response to a March 2008 order of the Supreme Court requiring it to do so and to carry out a full investigation in accordance with Nepali law."

However, the UN body said that more than three years later, the court`s order had not been implemented.

"Nor has any action been taken to date on a recommendation by the National Human Rights Commission issued to the government in June 2008 stating that the case should be investigated and the alleged perpetrators prosecuted," the UN statement said.

The UN rights body said that the state has the responsibility to ensure that the name of a person is fully cleared following a thorough investigation before any appointment to a high public office is announced.

"(Sapkota`s appointment) contradicts Nepal`s commitments, as expressed during the Universal Periodic Review process (in the UN rights meet), towards accountability for serious human rights violations and abuses committed during the conflict, and reinforces the culture of impunity in Nepal," it said.

In the past, western governments refused visas to Sapkota to attend conferences abroad.

Now the appointment of a Maoist leader as home minister as well has raised fears that the Maoists, the largest party in parliament, will use the clout to withdraw criminal charges against their cadre, including murder charges, and turn a blind eye to new crimes by them.

Bureau Report