OHCHR concerned over detention of five ex-ministers under PSA

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)-Nepal has expressed concerns over the use of the Public Security Act (PSA) to take five ministers of previous royal government in preventive detention.

A statement issued by the OHCHR’s Nepal office on Wednesday said the OHCHR conveyed its concern to the Home Ministry today regarding the use of the Public Security Act (PSA) to hold five former ministers in preventive detention.

“OHCHR-Nepal believes that the use of the PSA raises serious questions about the legality of the arrests and detention. According to the detention letters issued by the Chief District Officer of Kathmandu, all detainees were “involved in conspiratorial activities including organizing secret meetings likely to jeopardise the sovereignty of the people and the people’s rights achieved by the people’s movement,” the statement said.

It further said, “The detention letters however do not indicate the basis on which these accusations are being made, nor do they give specific details of the “conspiratorial activities” and how such activities “immediately jeopardise the sovereignty, integrity, or public tranquility and order of the Kingdom of Nepal.”

Then ministers Minister Kamal Thapa (Home), Ramesh Nath Pandey (Foreign Affairs), Shrish SJB Rana (Information and and Nikshya Shumsher Rana (Health) were arrested on May 12 and are currently being held in the Nepal Police Academy and the Armed Nepali Police barracks in Tripureshwor.

However, the UN rights body said its monitoring team that visited the detention centers on May 14 found the condition of detention of the former ministers “generally acceptable”.

“OHCHR-Nepal has repeatedly condemned the use of the PSA in the past to hold individuals in preventive detention in violation of international human rights standards. It is disappointed that the new Government has continued this practice at a time when it should be setting new standards for fully respecting human rights and upholding the rule of law,” the statement quoted Ian Martin, the representative of the OHCHR-Nepal as saying.

He added, “Those responsible for human rights violations should be brought to justice, but I call on the authorities to ensure that the rights of anyone accused in connection with their activities under the previous Government are fully respected