Rights defenders object to Lama’s promotion

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 18, 2017-Human rights defenders have taken exception to a recent government decision of promoting Kumar Lama to the post of brigadier general, saying the move violates the ruling of a Kapilvastu District Court and a verdict on human rights violation case by the Supreme Court. 

The Cabinet last week decided to promote Lama.

Lama was convicted by Kapilvastu District Court in 2008 for torturing Janak Bahadur Raut and Karam Hussain when he was the in-charge of the Gorusinghe barracks in 2005. 

Lama was arrested in January 2013 while on vacation in the UK. He was on leave from his posting as a UN peacekeeper in South Sudan. He was arrested under Section 134 (sub-section 1) of the Criminal Justice Act, a law that defines torture as a universal jurisdiction, and the prosecution is being brought in Britain because an obligation under the United Nations Convention Against Torture to bring suspects to justice wherever they are detained. Torture, like war crimes, is subject to universal jurisdiction, allowing those who allegedly committed crimes abroad to be tried in Britain.

But the Old Bailey of London in last year acquitted Lama. After his acquittal in London, Lama returned to join service at home.  

When asked, Nepal Army Spokesperson Brig Gen Jhankar Bahadur Kadayat said he had “heard about the promotion but yet to get official decision regarding it from the Prime Minister’s Office.” 

But human rights defender Govinda Bandi said the government move of promoting Lama is objectionable. 

Bandi cited Nepal Army regulations, saying any serving Nepal Army personnel and officials indicted by a court of law in case of human rights or other serious criminal charges should not get promoted. 

Article 13 of the Nepal Army Act says army officials or personnel would be deemed unfit to serve in the force if he or she is found guilty of human rights violation. 

“No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” states Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.   

The Kapilvastu court had found him guilty of violation of human rights, Bandi said, adding that another verdict delivered by the Supreme Court against the promotion of the then IGP of Nepal Police, Kuber Singh Rana clearly ordered the government not to promote officials involved in human rights violation and should conduct compulsory vetting before promotion of the officials in question. 

Both the Army and the state should be held accountable for Lama’s promotion, said Bandi. 

Published: 18-08-2017 08:07

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