NEPAL: Rights groups urge sanctions on king


ANKARA, 19 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - Three international rights organisations - Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) - have urged the international community to impose sanctions against Nepal's King Gyanendra and his royalist ministers.

'The situation has deteriorated so much by the king of Nepal sweeping away democracy and suppressing democratic rights,' Nicholas Howen, Secretary-General of the ICJ, said from Geneva on Wednesday. 'And now that has become one of the most serious problems because the people of Nepal do not have democratic space to discuss and decide their future and to resolve the conflict peacefully,'

'The government of Nepal is not listening, there have been many recommendations, and many calls [for reform], but the government is using more and more repressive measures,' Howen added.

Officials from AI echoed that view. 'The reasons the organisations decided to call for targeted sanctions at this time is that we have tried almost everything else over the past years and particularly over the last one year,' Kavita Menon of AI said from London.

'We have seen some very positive actions from the international community, a series of statements, high-level delegations and meetings with the king. We have the presence of the [office of the UN] High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal. And that is what the organisations were calling for one year ago - an international human rights monitoring presence in the hope that would help avert some of these abuses and in fact encourage the government to reform its human rights practices,' Menon maintained.

'But what we are seeing is that it has not worked or has not worked sufficiently. What is needed now is some stronger action so that the government does take its human rights commitments seriously,' the AI official said.

Their comments came one day after the three organisations urged the international community to refuse King Gyanendra and his senior officials entry to other countries and to freeze any assets held overseas. The organisations issued their call during an international meeting in Geneva convened by the Swiss government to review Nepal’s human rights record.

Since February 2005, the king has ruled the country directly with a handful of royalist ministers after suspending the democratic government citing its failure to contain the Maoist insurgents, who have been waging an armed rebellion against the state for over a decade.

“Sanctions targeting the king and top officials responsible for such serious human rights violations are necessary to get them to change their abusive behaviour,” said Kenneth Roth, HRW’s executive director. “King Gyanendra’s government has shown that it will only respond to international pressure when its interests are at stake.”

The three human rights organisations said the targeted sanctions should be lifted only when there is clear evidence that the government is complying with the demands of the UN Commission on Human Rights as set out in the UN 2005 resolution on Nepal.

Nepal’s biggest suppliers of military assistance - India, the United States and the United Kingdom - have already suspended their military assistance to Nepal. Many international donors have suspended their development assistance to the government as well.