Ms. Fulmati Nyaya (pseudonym used) a 14-year-old girl belonging to the indigenous Tharu community of Nepal was arbitrarily arrested, without knowledge of her crime, from her home in Kailali District in 2 April 2002; within the backdrop of the decade long internal armed conflict. Around 300 members of the Armed Police Force and Royal Nepalese Army entered her village and arrested her on the pretext of looking for Maoist rebels. Post-arrest, Ms. Fulmati was inappropriately touched and sexually assaulted by a group of soldiers. While detained, at the Army barracks in Teghari, Kailali, she was repeatedly raped, tortured with explicit sexual acts and subjected to verbal abuse under the pretext of extracting confessions. On 12 April 2002, she was transferred to the Bakimalika Battalion of the Armed Police Force in Banbehda, Kailali. As a minor, not only was she assaulted but also forced to perform child labour within the barracks. She was finally released on 14 June 2002. On returning to her village, Ms Nyaya faced social ostracization from village members on account of being considered ‘impure’ after having been sexually assaulted. The humiliation stopped her from going to school and receiving a formal education for about two years.
Read more: here
Search for justice
In January 2011, Ms. Fulmati complained about her arbitrary detention and ill-treatment before the Chief District Officer in Kailali district, but has not received any interim relief to date. On 17 February 2014, a complaint was filed on behalf of Ms. Fulmati to the Deputy Superintendent of the Police at the Kailali District police office. There was refusal to file the report citing the crime of rape had a 35-day statute of limitation. Ms. Fulmati, with the help of a lawyer tried to file a claim for compensation before the Kailali District Court, pursuant to the Compensation Relating to Torture Act, 1996, but the Court refused to register the claim. Further on 29 March 2014, Ms. Fulmati requested the Assistant Chief District Officer in Dhangadhi, the District Headquarters of Kailali, to register a first information report, but he refused to do so alleging that it was not possible for conflict-related cases to be registered and that the she should wait for the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms.
Ms. Fulmati filed a writ of mandamus, on 11 April 2014 before the Supreme Court of Nepal requesting the non-application of the 35-day statute of limitation. The Supreme Court issued a show cause order, asking the Ministry of Home Affairs, Nepal Police Headquarters in Naxal, the District Police Office in Kailali and the District Administration Office in Kailali to provide a reply within 15 days (by 2 May 2014). None of the respondents respected the deadline and the Supreme Court fixed a second deadline for 2 June 2014. Nepal Police Headquarters and the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted rejoinders on 5 and 19 May 2014, respectively, challenging the admissibility of the claims on the basis of the 35-day statute of limitations, which precludes any investigation.On20 June 2014 a communication was submitted to the UN Human rights committee by Ms. Nyaya. The application was supported by TRIAL international.The Committee reached its decision on 18 March 2019, finding Nepal responsible for the violation of several of the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights including the prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, forced labor and the right to liberty and security.
Read the decision English
The Human Rights Committee recommended Nepal to conduct a thorough and effective investigation into the facts surrounding the arrest, detention and rape of Ms. Nyaya and the treatment she suffered in detention and provide detailed information about the results of this to Ms. Nyaya. Nepal should also prosecute, try and punish those responsible for the violations committed. Nepal must ensure necessary and adequate psychological rehabilitation and medical treatment is provided to Ms. Nyaya free of charge and her provide her with effective reparation, adequate compensation and appropriate measures of satisfaction including arranging an official apology in a private ceremony.
Additionally, Nepal must criminalize torture and provide for appropriate sanctions and remedies commensurate with the gravity of the crime; adapt the definition of rape and other forms of sexual violence in accordance with international standards; guarantee that cases of rape, other forms of sexual violence and torture give rise to a prompt, impartial and effective investigation. Nepal should allow for criminal prosecution of those responsible for such crimes as well as remove obstacles that hinder the filing of complaints and effective access to justice and compensation for victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls in the context of the Nepali armed conflict, as forms of torture, including by significantly increasing the statute of limitations commensurate with the gravity of such crimes.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (“OHCHR”) called out the government of Nepal to implement the Views in a separate press release.
Efforts to prompt implementation
- Numerous letters sent to Human Rights Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Law and Justice, National Human Rights Commission, Office of Attorney General, Ministry of Health and Population in March 2020
- Follow- up report submitted to the Human Rights Committee, March 2020
- Meeting conducted with the representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, February 2021
- Collective Follow-up report to the Human Rights Committee, February 2021