Nepal UN human rights official voices concern about promotion of army officer

7 July 2009The top United Nations human rights official in Nepal has raised concerns with the country’s defence ministry about the proposed promotion of an army officer who commanded a battalion responsible for acts of torture, arbitrary detention and other human rights violations. Richard Bennett, the Representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), met yesterday with Nepal’s Defence Minister Bidhya Bhandari to voice concern about the plan to promote Toran Jung Bahadur Singh from Major General to Lieutenant General.OHCHR issued a report in 2006 on its investigation into torture, arbitrary detention and disappearances carried out at Maharajgunj Barracks, which was under the control of a battalion led by Maj.-Gen. Singh in 2003-04 during the conflict between Government forces and Maoists.The report concluded that Maj.-Gen. Singh “knew or ought to have known about these actions” and recommended that “those potentially implicated directly or through command responsibility for units involved should be suspended from any official duties pending the investigation, and should not be proposed for participation in UN peacekeeping missions.”Mr. Bennett said that “given these serious and credible allegations, the Government should investigate General Singh’s involvement before taking a decision on his promotion.”In a press release issued yesterday, OHCHR said it also acknowledged the contribution of Nepal on various UN peacekeeping missions, which obligate peacekeepers to maintain the highest standards of compliance with human rights.

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