AI, ICJ urge PM to reconsider Agni Sapkota appointment
KATHMANDU, May 24: Expressing concern over possible withdrawal of criminal cases by the government, the international human rights community has urged Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal in writing not to drop cases concerning serious human rights abuses.
Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists and Human Rights Watch jointly wrote a letter to Khanal on Tuesday against a backdrop of indications by Home Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara that human rights cases would be retracted, including that against Information and Communications Minister Agni Sapkota and Nepal Army Major Niranjan Basnet. Speaking at a press conference last week, Mahara had said that conflict-era cases should be dropped as they were politically motivated.
"Politically motivated withdrawal of cases would constitute a breach of the government´s obligations under international law, which prohibits de facto or de jure amnesties for crimes under international law, including gross human rights violations," the rights organizations said in the letter to the prime minister.
The global rights organizations have also expressed their concern over the appointment of Sapkota as a minister in spite of criminal investigations pending against him. They have urged the prime minister to reconsider Sapkota´s appointment.
"The appointment of Sapkota, a member of the politburo of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), while he is under police investigation sends a strong signal of government indifference to such serious allegations and reinforces the culture of impunity in Nepal," the human rights organizations said in their letter.
Sapkota has been accused of involvement in the killing of one Arjun Lama in Kavre district during the conflict period.
They have urged the prime minister to ensure that police investigations and criminal cases involving human rights abuses are allowed to proceed without political interference.