International pressure is mounting on Nepal to take action against an army Major allegedly involved in the disappearance, torture and death of a 15-year-old girl nearly six years ago.
Major Niranjan Basnet is one of the four Nepal Army officials accused in the death of Maina Sunuwar on February 17, 2004.
The teenager was tortured to death for being an alleged Maoist sympathizer during Nepal’s 10-year civil war that ended in 2006. Her body was exhumed in March 2007 from a secret burial site inside an army training centre.
A Nepal Army Court of Inquiry Board sentenced three officials to six months imprisonment in September 2005. But Basnet, who is to return to Nepal on Friday from an UN peacekeeping mission in Chad, is yet to face any action.
On Thursday, the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists urged the Nepal government to arrest Basnet for his role in the death.
“In the case of Maina Sunuwar, one family’s struggle for justice has come to symbolize the persistence of a culture of impunity for gross human rights violations in Nepal,” said Govinda Sharma, ICJ legal adviser.
Alain Le Roy, chief of UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations stated in New York on Wednesday that Basnet has been relieved of his duties in Chad in view of the serious nature of allegations and repatriated to Nepal.
Despite a court order asking Nepal Army to arrest Basnet and suspend him, the government is yet to respond. Instead he was promoted to the rank of major and sent on the UN mission to Chad.
Sunuwar’s death is one of most prominent cases of human rights violation by the Nepal Army during the 10 year civil war with Maoists that led to nearly 16,000 deaths and disappearance of over 1300 others.
Besides ICJ, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have already asked the Nepal government to arrest Basnet to bring him to justice.
Following a Supreme Court order, a case against Basnet and the other accused is pending at Khavre District Court for the past two years after an FIR and writ was filed by the victim’s mother challenging the army court verdict.