Human Rights in NA
Following the sudden attack on the Army barracks
in Dang on 23rd November 2001, the then government declared
a state of emergency in Nepal and moblized the army in addition
to the hard pressed Police and Armed Police Force.
During the resultant counter insurgency operations,
in spite of efforts to operate within the domestic laws, some
incidents of human rights violations did occur. But these acts
were either unintentional mistakes made in the fog of battle
or the criminal violations of individuals. They were not policy
driven. Such violations were nevertheless unacceptable to the
Army and as a result the need for a Human Rights Organization
within the Army was visualized.
Issues related to the International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) in the Nepalese Army were traditionally dealt with by the Judge Advocate General (JAG). In order to gain adequate knowledge to establish a Human Rights organization within the Nepalese Army, a team comprising of the Adjutant General and Judge Advocate General visited the United Kingdom for a week to observe the Human Rights organization of the British Army on 3rd May 2002. The team forwarded its observation to the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). In the meantime, information on the Human Rights organization of various Armed forces was gathered through their residential Defense Attachés. Based
on the COAS order, observation of the British Army, advice of the legal expertise and academicians, the Nepalese Army established a dedicated Human Rights Cell under the Adjutant General branch on 8th July 2002.
The Nepalese Army has issued and implemented various directives, instructions and policies on International Human Rights Laws (IHRL) and Internatinal Humanitarian Laws (IHL). In addition to the previously issued IHRL and IHL instructions to all establishments, the Nepalese Army issued Chief of the Army Staff Directive No. 02/060 dated BS 2060/11/29 (12th Mar 2004), No. 01/061 dated BS 2061/9/26 (10th Jan 2005) and Special Instructions dated 2063/5/29 (14th Sept 2006).These directives clearly instruct the Nepalese Army to respect and support the protection and promotion of IHRL and IHL and judicial proceedings during all operations. Besides, the Nepalese Army has integrated the teaching of IHRL and IHL into all Army career courses. The Nepalese Army has issued various booklets and cards like the Soldier's Card, ROE Card, Human Rights booklet and Human Rights Year Book for the protection and promotion of IHRL and IHL in the organization. The Nepalese Army has taken punitive measures against those found guilty of violations of human rights and humanitarian laws. Such punitive actions range from imprisonment, prohibition from participating in UN Missions, demotions, etc.
The procedure for the handling of allegations of violations of rights are as follows:
- The allegation is received by the Nepalese Army.
- The allegation is passed on to the Directorate of Human Rights, who studies the allegation and passes it on to the concerned establishment.
The concerned unit/subunit will conduct a court of inquiry (CoI) and will forward the findings to the Judge Advocate General (JAG).
The JAG may conduct further CoI if required.
If the JAG so recommends, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) may appoint a court martial board.
The verdict of the court martial will be published in the Army Orders. The verdict will also be communicated in writing to the organization or the person from whom the allegation was received.
It is because of such efforts that, out of 25 cases of extra judicial killings reported, 18 cases or 72% have been resolved and a further 7 cases are still under investigation. The Nepalese Army started incorporating the values of human rights and humanitarian laws into its operational doctrine. Today the practice of zero tolerance of human rights violations has led to the enhancement of the image of the Nepalese Army.