Illegal detention and torture in protected areas in Nepal

A large number of Indigenous Peoples and the local communities in Nepal, who are displaced due to the declaration of the protected area and living in the vicinity of the protected area, depend on the forest products and water resources of the protected area for their livelihoods. The collection of forest products and grazing and fishing in the protected areas (National Parks, Reserves, and Conservation Areas) has been considered a forest crime. Access to forest products for livelihood is also limited in Buffer Zones in Nepal where about one million people live. According to the annual report (2021) of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation of Nepal, 2,324 people were arrested by the protected area administration this year, of which 2,032 were charged with forest crimes and 292 with wildlife crimes.

The Constitution of Nepal (2015) enshrines the fundamental right to justice, according to which every person shall have the right to a fair trial by an independent, impartial and competent court or judicial body. Similarly, the Constitution has also guaranteed the right against torture, according to which no person who is arrested or detained shall be subjected to physical or mental torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and such acts shall be punishable by law, and any person who is the victim of such treatment shall have the right to obtain compensation in accordance with the law. However, monitoring by the National Human Rights Commission has shown that the protected area administration has been treating the arrested persons in a cruel, inhuman, or degrading manner without respecting their fundamental rights . According to the commission, there is a growing tendency to give only general compensation to the torture victims and not to take legal action against the officials involved in the torture.

After the declaration of the National Park and Buffer Zones, the protected areas authority including Chitwan National Park banned fishing and picking of groundnuts for livelihood, and the livelihood of the Indigenous Peoples and local communities was taken away. In order to make a living, the residents of the Buffer Zones are forced to go to the protected areas for fishing and to get groundnuts and forest products. In the process, they have been subjected to some form of abuse and insults. Many people are imprisoned by the park administration and beaten to death. Meanwhile, Mr. Rajkumar Chepang, who was beaten by the army of Chitwan National Park on the pretext of picking snails from the river, died on 20 July 2020. Earlier, studies had confirmed that Mr. Shikharam Chaudhary had died due to excessive torture in the custody of the same park . Though the employee who tortured and killed Shikharam Chaudhary in custody was not punished, the person who tortured Rajkumar Chepang in custody has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court.

In various protected areas including Chitwan National Park, there are daily incidents of violence against poor women of the indigenous communities who depend on forest resources for their livelihood. There are cases of abuse, beating, sexual violence, and rape of women by the park administration and security personnel while fishing and picking snails in the streams in the park and Buffer Zones and collecting firewood, grasses, and wild vegetables in the buffer zone forests . According to the women victims from the protected areas, they have been forced to endure incidents of sexual violence and rape by security personnel due to beatings, heavy fines, and lack of knowledge about legal remedies. Violence against women in protected areas can be stopped only if those involved in such human rights violations are punished according to the constitution and law.

प्रकाशित मिति : 11 जुलाई 2022, सोमवार
प्रतिक्रिया दिनुहोस